I’ m beginning to think the nomads and the Mongols had the best approach’throw everything away’keep nothing but what you need to feed yourself and your clothes. Oh, yes and probably some weapons of some sort to defend yourself and provide food for the family.
Other than these, you need nothing.
Last week I thought I was finished telling you about my move into a new house, but I wasn’t. Since the buyers of ours wanted to start moving into ours on the day we actually closed the sale, we didn’t have enough time to sort a lot of the stuff we have accumulated over the past thirty eight years. We are doing this now as we unpack boxes.
As you know, from time to time I have offered my long time advice to younger men who are just getting married; here is another one just for them. Please pass this along, trust me it will save them a lot of grief in the coming years.
Young men, do yourself a favor and set this rule into motion as quickly as you possibly can once you start into a serious relationship. It’s a simple rule; just tell your beloved one thing.
‘Honey, I don’t need those things to remind me of how much I love you.’
If you do this, then you will not be going through the pain and agony I am about to describe. As I stated earlier, my wife didn’t sort all of the stuff we’d accumulated before we moved and now she is trying to do it box by box. First off, the folks at the Container Store have her on their ‘ Frequent Shopper’point program. You know your wife has there entirely too many times when you walk in the door with her and the store manager comes to personally escort you and push your basket. We have enough points to spend two weeks in China, all expenses paid. This is not necessarily a good thing.
She decided to sort all of the cards and letters from anyone into groups and file them in little plastic envelopes. I started to ask why, but out of fear for my dinner declined to do so. After a few days of this, she realized the futility of this activity and threw away all of the cards and letters from everyone except our family. This project also failed after another week. Then she tossed all of the e-mails I had sent over the years and kept just the cards. Now we’re getting somewhere.
Once she finished with this project she started in on the photos. Now, young men listen very closely to what I’m about to say. You, my friend will generally have the responsibility of taking family pictures for the remainder of your life. While your wife is baking cookies or blowing up balloons for birthday parties, you will be the photographer designate charged with capturing these precious memories which define your family’s history for all time. Take heed here’..when you get these developed or printed or whatever you do with whatever camera’..ONLY KEEP THE GOOD ONES. Do not allow your house to become a resting place for pictures of bridges, trees, rocks and fuzzy squirrels. No one in the future will care about you photograph of some plate of barbeque you may have ordered in some remote Texas town, even if the ribs were good. The picture in the future will have no meaning. I know what you’re thinking, if I have control of the camera, why can’t I just not take the picture’The answer is simple; they (your wife and your kids) won’t let you. You will have to document rocks, lizards, trees and weird lawn art, you will have no choice. But you can eliminate these from becoming part of your collective useless stuff by taking them out before they enter the house.
Women cannot do this. They lack the internal mechanism which allows men to throw away cards, letters and photographs without a second thought. Your wife probably has some cards and letters written over a hundred years ago stored somewhere. She doesn’t even know who wrote them, but she won’t throw them away so they get passed along from one generation to another. Men have this same problem with worn out flags. We can’t toss them in the garbage so we put them in a box somewhere just to get them out of our minds.
Do yourselves a favor only keep the things that you can personally identify. Only keep the stuff that is yours. Give those report cards, Valentines, school pictures and notes from the teacher to your children. Make them rent their own storeroom. It’s good for the economy and it will help keep you sane. Trust me.