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Readers Blog: Dobie Maxwell's 'Dented Can' Diary

Less Is More

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Thursday December 20th, 2012 – Niles, IL

   Call me a cynic, but I’m not betting on the end of the world happening tomorrow despite all the hype about the Mayan prophecies. It would be too easy if everything just screeched suddenly to a halt, and my life has been a lot of things but never easy. I’m betting on struggles o’plenty for all.

   I did hedge that bet just a smidge though, and consciously chose to not do the enormous pile of laundry that’s been stacking up like firewood for a while. If the Earth does indeed decide to blow up tomorrow, I’m saving myself that chore. Why waste time sorting socks for the Apocalypse?

   Instead, I started to purge myself of the majority of my worldly possessions. I’ve attempted this several times before, and the more times I do it the easier it becomes. Things accumulate in all of our lives, and before we know it we’re choking on our own possessions. They eventually own us.

   If anything, I am an anti-hoarder. I come from a family of pack rats, and after they died it was a major hassle getting rid of all their useless clutter that they thought was so ‘valuable’ for so long. I saw it happen with my grandparents, father and an uncle and aunt, and I refuse to let it be me.

   Part of what makes it easier for me is that I’ve moved more than the average person. I’ve lived a nomadic gypsy lifestyle most of my adult life, and the process of moving becomes more hated and unpleasant each time I do it. Still, I’ve hauled way too many boxes places they never needed to go. I have spent much of this year going through every last scrap of paper, and I’m glad I did.

   I salvaged some things I’m glad I kept, like random comedy notes from my years of traveling I didn’t even remember making. Looking at them now, they’re a time capsule that I can create new material from, and the ideas are all my own. It’s like finding a hidden bank account in my name.

   Most of the rest of it is piles of books I’ll never read, music and audio programs I’ll never hear and clothing I’ll never wear. Every time I move I purge myself of things like this, but it manages to pile up again and before I know it I’m backed up again. I need to stop doing this over and over and pare down to the bare minimum. It’s much easier to exist free of clutter – at least it is for me.

   Step number one today was going through all my clothes and anything I haven’t worn in a year was put in bags to be donated to The Salvation Army. I dropped some significant weight with my exercise regimen after my diabetes diagnosis, and I had a lot of clothes I won’t likely wear again.

   I don’t know why I was hanging on to them, but it felt great to load them into the car and drive them to the Salvation Army store in Gurnee, IL and drop them off. My closet is looking bare, but my spirits are looking up because I know it was the right thing to do. Hopefully someone will get some use out of those clothes, but I’m just happy they’re out of my life. This was a perfect start.

   Even if the world does end tomorrow, this was the right thing to do. Clearing out the old makes room for the new, if even symbolically. I’m betting we’ll all be around after tomorrow, so I’ll see how much more I can purge to keep this going into 2013 and beyond. Less is more, more or less.

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