POINT: I always thought I was the neat one. Sorry, Mike. I accused you of being messy, and today, I have opened my eyes. I have so much stuff—paperwork I am drowning in, clothes I don’t need, a garage full of projects I am almost ready to start, and two hobbies of genealogy and writing that command a lot of paper trails. I thought about calling someone today and asking how long to keep those files that clutter my lateral file. Things like estate papers, closings of property, and support material and the contract with the publisher for the book I wrote over seven years ago. . .no simple answers for the pounds of paper I have sitting on my desk. They certainly could be archived at this point, but where is the cut off?
COUNTERPOINT: Matilda Burris was a saver. She was my paternal great-grandfather’s second wife’s maternal grandmother! Did you follow that? I have a letter someone felt worthy to save in each of six generations from Matilda to her husband, William Burris, who was off taking care of the wounded as a doctor in the Civil War. I also have a poem entitled “Independence” that she wrote that brings chills to me as I read her heart’s aching as a southern wife and mother, nearly 150 years later. Maybe there is someone appointed from each generation to be the keeper of the sacred. Most of the stuff I have is just stuff, but what if my fourth great-granddaughter held in her hands some of my writings, some of my heart, and felt that bond I feel with Matilda?
It’s pretty obvious that I am torn between two philosophies. I need eyes to see what moth and rust destroy and what true treasures are. No thing ever mattered to me until several mementos I have were all I had tangible to remember that person. However, I am ready to work toward getting my paperwork, my possessions, and my life pared down to as simple as I can. I owe it to myself and the next generation who will be stuck going through all these things I feel I can’t part with. I am holding on to too much, and it is time to let go and feel the freedom of simplicity. I’ll keep you posted how it’s going.