"Dear Witbones -- Ask A Humorist!” is B. Elwin Sherman's agony uncle advice column for the laughlorn. Today's Witboner:
"Finders Seekers Hoarders Keepers."
I'm being overrun by the clutter in my house. I try to throw out things but when I do, I just later replace them with even more stuff. My floors are piled high, and there are only narrow little walkways left to get between rooms. I'm afraid I'll be discovered crushed by an avalanche of my own junk, but there's just too much for me to deal with now and I don't even know where to begin. Help! How can I stop making mountains out of molehills? SWAMPED IN SARATOGA
Sounds like you’re a victim of HCS, or “Hoard & Clutter Syndrome,” formerly known as the “Packrat Syndrome.” It’s a form of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) and its origins lie in what my dad used to call, the “When I Was Your Age We’d Walk A Mile For A Dirt Sandwich And Be Glad To Get It" Syndrome.
I’ve checked, and there are 8,321 books on the subject, and that’s just counting the "expert" guests on Dr. Phil and Oprah. If you’re writing to me because you need some deep insights from an armchair psychologist, I can only tell you to not even THINK about reading these books. They don’t help anyone but their publishers and authors, and you have no room.
The good news is, your question holds the key to solving this dilemma. No, you’re not making mountains out of molehills, but you are trying to make molehills out of mountains. Fine if you’re a mole, but you need the human version.
The solution is simple:
1. Empty your house of EVERYTHING. Yes, I said everything. Don’t discriminate. You can’t, anyway, not in your condition; that’s why everything must go. Bag it, box it, throw it out the window, do whatever you have to do to get everything inside, outside. You’re not attempting to determine what's trash and what's treasure. As I said, you’re not capable of doing that, so don’t try. You’re a hoarder. Right now, you could find three good reasons for holding on to fuzzy green cheese or a broken right nostril inhaler.
So, for now, everything not nailed down? Out with it!
2. Done? Now, only bring back inside what you absolutely need to get through the day, say: a toothbrush, a box of Yodels, and bubble bath. Do this every day for a week, and no cheating. Lug only the essentials back into the house: broken bed, half-eaten Twinkies, dirty towels, burned-out light bulbs, and your children.
3. If you haven’t brought it back within a week, it’s junk. Put out a “FREE STUFF” sign, and say the following out loud repeatedly until everything out there is gone: “I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a trailer.” It's your new mantra. Eventually, all your cast-offs will disappear. Not to worry. Someone will even take the “free stuff” sign. Free is free.
Now … how to keep from relapsing into your hoarding behavior?
Leave Florida and move up here to New Hampshire. We don’t hoard.
We just hold onto things for the great-grandchildren.
Thanks for Witboning, and keep me posted.
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