I was a hoarder. Now I’ve gone to the other extreme

While I am by no means a minimalist, I take relief that I'm no longer a hoarder.

There is a box in the corner of my lounge room and I am not happy about it. At all. In fact, the box is doing my head in. You see, I want it gone. Yesterday. But I can’t dispose of it, as it is not mine to do so.

The box belongs to a dear friend from Sydney who stayed with me for a few nights recently. When he left, he forgot said box. I promptly alerted him to the fact and offered to mail it back.

“Oh love, don’t worry about it,” he said nonchalantly. “It’s nothing important. I’ll pick it up next time I’m down.” And so the box is still here waiting his return, whenever that may be. And I am struggling to remain casual about its presence.

You see, I have had enough of boxes of stuff. Until recently, I had dozens of my own shoved everywhere and anywhere.

Some were wedged into already stuff ed cupboards, duly falling on me whenever I dared open their doors. Others were piled on top of wardrobes, under beds and behind pot plants. I even had two in the boot of my car that had taken up residence since I last moved house. And that was near on four years ago.

Around about now you are probably asking why I didn’t just toss out these imposing cartons. It is a simple and relevant question, and one that many others have asked me over the years.

But those words were an anathema to me. Rude and inconsiderate, even. Because what was in those boxes – not that I had any idea of their actual contents – was invaluable. They were part of me, my history, a record of who I am. Or so I thought.

My mother was of a similar view. She believed that every holiday or celebration deserved recording. And so she did, accumulating hundreds of carefully curated photo albums. She kept every card she ever received, every tax return, every magazine. Her garage was so chockers she had to park on the street.

Then, she died. And suddenly all those boxes were mine. I couldn’t move in my small flat, yet also couldn’t part with what she deemed so important. Until one night, after a few wines, it was time to fight back.

Boxes were opened and their contents disgorged. After a few “aww, how sweet” and “wow, I remember that” moments, I made a monumental decision – stuff this stuff! Because that is all it was.

I didn’t need things to remind me of her. She wasn’t going anywhere in my heart.

Several days and two full skips later, most of it was gone. I’m not saying this was easy. There were numerous tears as I threw yet another pile of photos of people I didn’t know into the bin.

But these were just things. They weren’t her.

After I finished with Mum’s boxes, I decided it was time to look at my own. It was an opportunity to recalibrate what I actually need or want in my life. The answer was: not a lot.

And so the cathartic culling continued. Skips were filled with chucked crapola, each unencumbered box a trophy to my vigilance and determination. My mantra became “If there’s no room for it, I don’t want it.”

I have stuck to this approach with a passion that is yet to abate. While I am by no means a minimalist, I take relief that I’m no longer a hoarder. Everything I own now has a place and a use.

Which brings me back to that box.

There is nowhere to put it. It doesn’t fit anywhere. I have come to see that box through my new-found prism of feng shui sensibility as stagnant energy, a bloody great barricade to my bliss. It is ruining my equilibrium, stuffing up my serenity.

It looks so benign sitting there like an innocent piñata, waiting for me to attack it with a rolling pin in a fit of pique.

So, to my friend who left the box, it’s not that I don’t love you, I just don’t love this cardboard reminder of you. And I’m sure if you think about it, the fact that you don’t need that box immediately means you probably never will. Don’t take it personally. Just take it away, please.

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