Difficult Decluttering: When What You Love Most Is The Idea Of It

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Quite often around these parts we discuss the kind of clutter that’s blatantly negative. But what about the items that are actually in terrific shape? Things that are, to all discernible eyes, completely desirable? Things that you really want to like, want to use. 

Those too can be clutter; if your holding onto stuff is based chiefly off its presumed desirability, or your own earnest desire to be able to incorporate it into your daily life. 

My client owned some majorly professional juicer. High quality, top of the line thing that could probably have squeezed liquid from a peanut. Or an English muffin.

It was brand new even, the accessory parts still in their original plastic.

As I pulled it out of the cabinet my client sighed.

“I just really love the idea of being healthy enough that I would juice on a regular basis.”

“Uh-huh.” I said. “How long have you been loving that idea?”

“Oh, just five years. Since our wedding. It was a wedding present.”

“Just five years. Mmmhmm.”

We talked it over and I explained that from all I could tell, she wasn’t juicing. She wasn’t realistically going to start juicing in the foreseeable future, and while she really loved the idea of juicing, that itself wasn’t sufficient reason to keep the thing (those juicers are large).

Better, we resolved, to let go of the juicer and find a fantastic local establishment, some beacon of wellness, that serves up fresh juices daily to satisfy the craving for juice should it arise. 

While editing a client’s closet, I came across an elaborate skirt concoction that was, very evidently, from Japan (these things are obvious). Statement it made; ubiquity it possessed naught.

“Oh god, I just love the idea of this” my client said, holding it up to herself in the mirror. “I always try to make it work. Like I always try to find an occasion to wear it. And then I just can’t.”

I asked her how many times she’d tried it on (many) and how many times she’d successfully worn it (“Does a small dinner party here count? I think I wore it that one time.”) 

The math was clear: the allure of a thing’s general existence and your possession of it < your need to actually hold onto it. 

That was almost it. 

You know, I never was very good at math.

But I am certain that you own something (right now, it’s in your house!) that you’re just so keen on the idea of, but in actuality, you rarely if ever use or wear it. 

It’s time to acknowledge that for whatever reason, you just haven’t been successful at integrating that dress/appliance/whatever into your daily life. And it’s okay! You are no less of a stellar person.

Even if it cost a long sum, even if it’s deemed a “must-have” by every women’s publication, if your attachment to it is floating in fantasy land, rather than being grounded in real life, then you can go ahead and say bye bye. 

So now I want to know: what’s your “I love the idea of it” item and what are you going to do with it? 

Image credits: The ResidenceJabberjays 

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