Out with the Old…

I spent Saturday ‘cleaning’ my parents’ basement. 

I love my dad to bits but we have very different ideas about what  ‘cleaning’ means; he believes the 1000 sq ft basement is filled with treasures.   I, on the other hand, see GARBAGE (in neon lights :). 

The items in question include;

1.  5 cardboard boxes of shampoo and creams from 1989 when my mom worked at a cosmetics factory.  We opened one of the creams and mold had consumed most of the contents.  My father is convinced he will still be using them…’just scoop the mold off and the rest we can use’…

2.  commercial sized bright red plastic ash tray.  The thing is waist-high and no one in my family has or ever will (hopefully) smoke.  It has been with us for about 25 years and our family has paid to have it literally  shipped over seas when we moved to Canada. 

3.  1 shoe of a pair  from the 70’s.  Besides the fact that it is dirty and out of fashion, the lace is missing and there is a hole in the sole.  My dad tells me we’re keeping it in case the other shoe shows up….because then it will actually be serviceable, right? 🙂

4.  Boxes of business cards from 1990 when my dad was an independent insurance agent for all of 2 weeks.  He spent a lot of money getting them printed so apparently they are staying.  Nevermind that he is an engineer AND semi-retired.

5.  Broken handheld electroic baseball game from the late 80’s.  When I pointed out that no kid worth their salt would ever waste their time with that clunker, he retorted that he’s keeping it for himself to play…someday. 

6.  Christmas Cards sent to my parents for the last 40 years…you know those literary gems with heartfelt messages such as  “Dear “the Sanj” family (sometimes they’ll even attempt the kids’ names…not pretty)….a space and then “From “random” family”….Sometimes they’ll go crazy and add a ‘merry christmas’ or if we’re really lucky, “happy new year’….

The best part was when I actually got him to part with some stuff and took it to Goodwill (yay!).  They told me to take the stuff straight to the DUMP…where I had to pay to have it discarded.  My dad was quite affronted by Goodwill’s assessment.  Thank goodness he wasn’t in the car…I think he would have made me drive to another Goodwill to get a second opinion. 🙂

…basically, I have a live one on my hands….a true and certified PACK RAT.

Often his main reason for not getting rid of something is the amount of effort or time or MONEY it cost to attain it originally.  It got me to thinking how that is often the case for so many things in our lives (hence the “open letter” post of yesterday).  My dad does not acknowledge his physical storage costs or the huge psychological toll these items take as this ‘mess’ in the basement weighs on his mind, mostly unconciously.  

Some are bad purchases and he thinks that keeping them long enough will justify their purchase eventually.  Instead, they remain as reminders of mistakes for which he can never forgive himself.  Imagine the freedom if he just let them go…

No matter how much something costs to acquire/maintain, we have to learn to let it go when the time comes.  The only thing worse then going down the wrong road is continuing on it even after you realize it is the wrong one.  We have to learn to forgive ourselves, leave space for new ideas/people/experience.  Otherwise, it will cause stagnation in our lives…whether this is an object,  an idea….OR

…even a person.


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