Hoarders and Discarders

Many, many years ago – probably in the early 1960’s – I clipped the following essay by a columnist named Hal Boyle from the local newspaper.  I don’t remember anything else about Hal Boyle.  But I found the essay to be both amusing and thought provoking.  It was entitled: Two Types of People: Hoarders and Discarders.

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One of life’s ordeals to the disorganized mass of mankind is the orderly person.

He believes everything has its proper place, and if he can’t find any other place for it he puts it in the wastebasket.

Neatness often is praised as a virtue whereas, in fact, it more often ia a vice – if not a downright sin.

There are basically only two types of people – the hoarders and the discarders.

The hoarders are the clutterbugs of this world.  They are normal.

They never throw anything away.  Anything that happens to them is worth saving.

The orderly person, on the other hand, is a fellow who turns something into nothing.  He is like a man trying to bail himself out of a sinking lifeboat.  He is so busy throwing things away that when he finally departs it is as if he had never been there.

The neat person is not only a trouble to himself; he is a bother to others.  He is never satisfied with his own neatness; he must inflict it on others.

He is abnormal; he is a fanatic.  May a murrain seize him!

One of the great beauties of life is its disorder, and chaos is an inescapable part of living.  This world is more than a vast laundry.  It is a great and continuing salvage operation, and anything that happens to one is worth holding on to.

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For the most part, I consider myself a Hoarder – at least a selective one.  I have no problem discarding furniture, clothing, appliances and other things of that nature.  They’re just things that I use for a time but have no particular meaning to me.  But I cling to things of a more personal nature – things that define me, things that validate my existence – photographs; letters; books that I’ve read and enjoyed; newspapers and magazines that reported and described significant events that occurred in my lifetime; video tapes and DVDs; phonograph records and CDs; gifts from loved ones and friends; knickknacks and other possessions once prized by loved ones no longer around – all things that have  served to make me – ME.

But I also share a trait with the Discarders.  I require neatness and orderliness around me.  If I cannot display the things I have saved and value neatly then they are either boxed up and stored in the garage or stashed away in closets and dresser drawers.  It is sad that they’re not so easily available to me but there is comfort in knowing that they are nearby and accessible.

I sometimes chuckle when I consider the bemusement of those either loved ones or strangers who will go through my possessions after I have “shuffled off this mortal coil”.  I can just  imagine them wondering why on Earth anyone would have saved some of that stuff, but also thinking that some things are really neat.

It doesn’t bother me a bit that many things will be tossed out or sold to strangers – after all, they will have already well served their purpose and were of particular meaning only to me.

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2 Comments

Filed under About Me

2 responses to “Hoarders and Discarders

  1. naturgesetz

    I’m a hoarder, too, but not neat. So much of my house is extremely cluttered.

    I share the feeling that many of the things I keep are connections to what makes me, me. That as souvenirs, they connect me to the events and people who had something to do with them, as if I needed the tangible connection for my past to stay real. Beyond that, though, I have operated with the delusion that my life would be of interest to future generations, and historians and biographers would be happy to have a treasure trove of source material to research. I’m beginning to realize that nobody will care, that I am not what Hyacinth Bucket would call “Somebody important,” and that whatever I don’t chuck will just have to be chucked by someone else.

    Furniture is a little different for me than for you. Much of what I have came from my grandfather’s house, and there are also many items he made, since he was an amateur woodworker. Other furniture was in my home when I was growing up. And there is china and silverware that were wedding gifts to my parents. So all these things have real sentimental value, and I hope my nephew will want many of them.

    • How wonderful that you have so many physical connections to the past that you can pass on. I have no feelings for furniture because I haven’t one item that I did not purchase myself.

      Oh, and I must admit that I, too, once believed that I was destined to make a difference – but I was quickly disabused of that fantasy. I have no plans to leave my “papers” to my Alma Mater.

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