Sunday, October 12, 2003


I'm working on clearing the collection of computer components, odd bits, and WIRES that have have accumulated over several years. I've found connector cables, dongles, more phone cord than anyone might need, and at least two auto power converters for computers. I also went through a box of 3.5 disks, marveling at the history of it (they are SO early ninties. I remember when people horded these things and recycled and reused them, because they were pricy. Amazing.) I've found about 8 ac power supplies, none with a piece of equipment.

And I've got more to go. I had to take a break from untangling, winding up, bundling, and twisty tying to reflect on two things. The first is the incredibly rapidity with which technology is changing. Since my grandmother was born (almost 100 years ago, now that I think about it, as my mother's mother was born in 1896), the changes have been immense. Since my mother's birth in 1927, since my own birth in 1965, the changes have come more and more quickly. I've been married 10 years and in those 10 years we've moved from having desktops wired to dial up modems to laptops on wireless.

Which leads to the immense pile of cables and connectors we no longer need, but that I can't quite make myself toss out to the landfill. Someone, somewhere, is still using this stuff.

The second thing I was reflecting on is my own tenacity in hanging on to these things. I mean, why? I have packratitis, oh yes indeed, that inability to throw things out because 1) it's still GOOD 2) I might need it someday 3) I could sell it 4) We might know someone who will want it. Packratitis is an inherited disorder. My mother's mother had it (growing up dirt poor and then living through the Depression seems to be a deciding factor in how serious the disorder becomes). It skipped my mom, who was very much of the "throw it out and get something new" mindset (probably from having grown up in the Depression and then living in the boomtime 50's). My father had packratitis very badly. I am completely controlled by it, except in moments like these when I look at all the stuff that owns me and go "NO! Give me back my space! Give me back my time!"

Yes. We feel like we own stuff, but it also owns us. It requires time to maintain, space to store, energy to use or worry about or secure. Anything you have that you don't use is just taking up your space and time. People who live minimally have it right.

Only, they don't have packratitis, and the warm cozy feeling of snuggling in with all your STUFF.

Did you ever see Labyrinth? There's a scene in that movie that explains, perfectly, what I'm talking about. Even if it is mostly with puppets. Whenever I am cleaning things out, I recall that junkyard and the old woman with the huge pile of trash on her back, and I go find another garbage bag.

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