Opinion: A place for anything

Commentary by Terry Anker

America, among its many other noted accolades, is the capital of stuff.

We have a ton of it. We have stuff in which to put our stuff. We have stuff to help us organize our stuff. I suppose that we have stuff to organize the stuff that we use to organize our stuff. It can all be a bit overstuffed.

But, pulling it together into some cohesive and orderly arrangement feels good. Once arranged, we are at the ready for whatever might come our way. The provisions for the machinations of life stand at hand awaiting our slightest need for deployment. Countered against the stacked disarray of the more shanty methods, an orderly approach to living seems entirely in order.

It seems simple. Yet, like some many consequences of human undertaking, the expectation of simplicity is often followed by anything but. Our plans to keep house are overwhelmed by all manner of domestic catastrophe. Time flees, even the bit of it required to ward off the clutter. Soon, our intended baskets, drawers, closets, shelves and tubs are filled to overflow with the impact debris of a full life.

Should we surrender and expect a call from the A&E television show “Hoarders?” Hopefully not. When the stuff is swelling and soon to overtake, pause and start, big to small. Wrangle the bits of scattered ephemera from work, school, marriage and family into holding pens. Then, arrange the variables that remain – preserving only those that have some significant practical or sentimental value. Not everything is important. And, almost nothing is irreplaceable. After, retrieve the small items, favorites first, until the space seems right. Whatever is left in the coop goes to resale, charity or the landfill. “Everything in its place and a place for everything” only holds true if there is actually a place for anything.