In Don Aslett’s incredible book Clutter’s Last Stand, he describes the Life Cycle of Stuff.
I wish I had taken more of his advice about thinking ahead in my younger years!
“All our stuff-shuffling even has a (loony) life cycle of its own:
People with apartments collect and store tons of extra things they don’t need in preparation for the time “when they get a house.” Then, finally, after suffering years of crowded inconvenience, they get a house and spread stuff all over to fill it up – just in time to retire and move into an apartment, and there is all that stuff that must be disposed of. Is the short span worth it? Think ahead when you’re gathering (and saving) ‘treasures’!
Any move – to college, camp, a new job, a new home – is a trauma in itself, but add 4,000 pounds of excess to the transition, and it’s a nightmare. If you have any hint you’re going to move, dejunk three months prior and you’ll bless yourself for it.”
Don also says that the average American moves fourteen times in a lifetime and that a third of our stuff is just clutter – things we don’t use or need! He states we could save eight moving van loads if we just de-junked. Yes, people spend lots of money moving junk!
Dan and I are now facing our 26th move since we married in 1973. I moved about twelve times before I got married. My dad was in the military during much of my childhood.
Dan had a tiny attic apartment when we were dating, and I lived with my parents. We were both college students.
Dan was in grad school, and I was ready to start my senior year when we married that hot summer day in August. So after our one-night honeymoon in Springfield, Missouri, I moved into Dan’s apartment.
We paid forty dollars a month’s rent. We lived in that attic apartment for one year. Our income was Dan’s graduate assistantship of three hundred dollars a month and a tiny bit I was earning at the computer center. A 1950’ish dinette set with two chairs, a twin mattress on the floor, and two bean bag chairs completed our furnishings. In addition, we had a couple of suitcases full of clothes, some used kitchen essentials, and a pile of textbooks. That was it – the sum of all our possessions. Surprisingly, we had all we needed. We were content and busy. Our small-space was more than adequate. And not having a car was no issue at all in that small college town.
Through the years, we have accumulated and de-accumulated a whole lot of stuff. But, unfortunately, we did so much stuff shuffling and moving, and it made our heads spin. If only I had followed Don Aslett’s advice on thinking ahead about our senior years!
I was the primary accumulator of our stuff. Dan was content with very little and hated to shop. So the large portion of our accumulation of things was due to my shopping habits and wrong mindset.
Now that we are in our 3rd Act of Life, we wonder why we accumulated so much. We are in the process of de-accumulating now. We are finding that with every item we discard, donate or sell, joy follows. And it is good to know that moving will no longer be a nightmare.