By BOB McKINNEY
Some good-natured ribbing came my way after last week’s review of the book Digital Minimalism and the examples of how I have attempted to digitally declutter my life.
My younger son noted the irony of my reading the book on an electronic reader.
My daughter-in-law, during a text exchange among family members, quipped that she was surprised the originator of the thread even included me after the statements I made.
I accepted their comments with good humor, not even arguing how they missed the point. As I wrote last week, I’m not getting preachy about it.
And with a recent project I have undertaken, I realize more than ever I have nothing to be self-righteous about when it comes to decluttering anything.
Our home has what is known around here as a walkout basement. I didn’t even know what that was until we bought the house in 2001 and it was described to us as such.
And I don’t know the term is even correct. According to one definition I found, it’s a basement with a door and windows.
Ours does not have windows, but it has a full-length door in the garage that leads to it. There are small openings for vents, but no windows. I’m guessing the term evolved to what it is based on the fact a person can walk into the space and stand up in it and, I suppose, the fact that one can walk out of it.
Anyway, whatever it’s called, it’s been a handy place over the years. We have retreated there during severe storm and tornado warnings.
But mostly it’s for storage. It has splendid built-in shelves, courtesy of the previous owners, and we have used them to their maximum capacity.
But like my text messaging I told you about last week, it has been getting out of hand down there. A couple of weeks ago I told my wife, with a few weekends ahead of me when I would be at home, I would be cleaning, purging and getting that area in order. It’s long overdue.
I have made such attempts in the past. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
I’ve even thought of reading that other book about decluttering, written by the lady who has made a fortune from it and a TV series of the same name. She urges her followers to say thank you and goodbye to items that have served a purpose but have run their course. Things that are kept should be neatly organized.
I think she even has a line of boxes and storage containers. But one book about decluttering is plenty. I’m going to handle this myself.
As of this writing, I have two weekends of cleaning and reorganizing under my belt. I’m not as young as I used to be, and it’s a tiresome undertaking, so to say I spend the weekend doing it is a stretch. I’m in a rhythm of spending a few hours Saturday going through stuff, then deciding what to throw away, what to give to Goodwill and what to keep.
On Sunday I load up the truck with the throwaways and the Goodwill contributions and take it all to that nice place on Sneed Road called a “convenience center,” a name with which I wholeheartedly concur. It’s mighty convenient to drive a few miles and dispose of no-longer-useful items.
My criteria for getting rid of stuff is probably like that of the organizational expert lady who wrote the book. If it’s no longer serving a purpose, it’s gone. I skip the thank you ceremony.
My wife has been conspicuously absent from this project. That’s fine, but I hope she understands the risk she is taking. In a year or so, when she happens to remember some dish/book/clothing item/whatever and goes hunting for it down there, only to discover it has gone to a new home, I’ll simply be shrugging my shoulders.
It’s the same with my adult children. I have warned them for years this day was coming, and I would be putting aside sentiment as I clean and purge. School mementos, yearbooks, textbooks, old clothes and youth sports paraphernalia will be kept or tossed at my discretion.
Who knows? This might bleed over to my closet and some of my treasured old clothes and baseball caps.
But I should not get ahead of myself. Those clothes and caps give me a sense of security, so they’re still serving a purpose.
No goodbye and thank you just yet.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.