In just a little while I'm off to the A-1 Storage center on the San Fernando Road with the hope of being able to empty out and close down the bin we have been renting there for several years now. There are boxes of books--mostly, I have to say, large numbers of mint copies of my own novels that were published back in the 1980s and were sent to my by the publisher presumably in lieu of the money that they (and I!) failed to earn on them; and family photographs and memorabilia; and quite a lot of art works for which we could find no space on the walls of our small house when we chose to downsize several years ago. Learning that the storage company have decided to cut off climate controls was enough to spur us to action, and we have now made what we hope will be sufficient space in our garage to store what we really need to keep.
Have you ever watched that cable television show about those professional scavengers who join in a weekly bidding war for abandoned storage bins, or those whose owners have failed to pay their monthly fees? The bidders are allowed only a glimpse inside, through an open door, before making their own best-guess judgment on that the contents might be worth. Sometimes they lose, sometimes they win out big, when they unearth a Tiffany lamp or some such marvelous treasure amongst the junk. Well, I have to say they would not have much luck with out bin. Still, it has to be cleared out.
All of which affords me the opportunity for a little Buddhist reflection on the things we accumulate in our lives, and to which we attribute different kinds of value--whether monetary or sentimental. Ellie is more attached, perhaps, to family things. I have found it hard--well, to date impossible!--to throw any of my books or manuscripts away. Is this with the delusional thought that some one, in a hundred or so years time, will rediscover the writings of the forgotten Peter Clothier and scour through my earliest manuscripts for evidence of my genius? Unlikely! Is it that I still cling to the young Peter who wrote those pages, some in tiny and illegible script, others hacked out on the trusty portable typewriter that accompanied me for many years on my travels?
Simple reason and common sense tell me that these boxes of books and papers have no value, really, and should be recycled. Will I be able to bring myself, today, to do it? Or will I weaken, give in to the hoarding instinct, and bring them back to the garage to be preserved for yet another few years, until my daughter has to make the decision for me?
What would you? Do you hoard useless old trash? Or do you follow the wiser, healthier path and chuck the stuff out? I'd like to know... But anyway, wish me luck!