Excerpts from Clutter's Last Standby Don Aslett
On committing Junkicide:
Junkicide is a slow, painful strangulation and dying of the senses. Although our brains are still intact, we've simply replaced thinking with things. We've crowded out creativity with accumulation. We've frozen
flexibility with frofusion. We've snapped up so mucy free stuff and bought so many things to keep, store, clean, polish, and protect that we don't have any freedom.
As a personal demobilizer, clutter rates right in there with crippling diseases, being bedridden, unable to drive,
or trapped in a prison cell. Our junk ties us down -- away from adventure, affection, and accomplishment -- and we can't go when and where we want to.
The Nine Warning Signs of Junkitis:
1. UNUSUAL DISCHARGE (from closets and shelves)
2. THICKENING OR LUMPS (under rugs, behind drapes, under beds)
3. NOTICEABLE SWELLING (of drawers, closets, files, pockets, waistlines)
4. OBVIOUS CHANGE OF COLOR (in your face, when you learn you've just missed a garage sale)
5. CHANGE IN PARKING REGULARITY (you start parking the car in the driveway because the garage is full of junk.
6. A SORE ON YOUR SHIN THAT DOES NOT HEAL (you keep breaking it open stumbling over junk)
7. UNREASONABLE TENDERNESS (toward shiny automobiles, souvenirs, and silverware sets)
8. NAGGING COUGH OR HOARSENESS (from talking about your possessions, and from yeooing at the kids for damaging things)
9. NUMBNESS (to the people you know and places you go)
On 'The Economy of Clutter':
The well-known 80/20 rule of business says: If all of a given category of items are sorted in order of value, 80 percent of the value will come from only 20 percent of the items. Think about that in terms of [the] clutter [in
Clutter makes every job take longer [because you've got to sift through what you've got to get at what you want]...
Clutter makes cleaning take longer [because there's more to clean around, under, and on top of]...
Storing it costs [whether in your own home or with a storage company]:
Storage space rents for 10 cents to 13 cents a square foot (or as much as $10 a square foot, if you're using house space for storage) [ as of 1984]. Clutter also serves as an enticement for burglary and fodder for
accidents, and it makes nice fuel for fires.
On 'Getting off the Excess Express':
How many hours of life, mind, and emotion we waste wanting and wishing for things we don't need: 99 percent of the time possessing it wouldn't make us happy....
One day I had the sudden realization: If I stopped buying things right this moment, there is no way I could ever use all I have now...
On Judging Junk:
Empty tin cans are clutter to 99 percent of us, but not to the person who uses than for constructive projects, or earns money by recycling them. Parties can be total junk, ruin your life -- or they can add a sparkle to it. It depends, of course, on the party and its effect on you. You have to judge that.
Anything that crowds the life out of you is junk. Anything that builds, edifies, enriches our spirit -- that makes us truly happy, regardless of how worthless it may be in cash terms -- isn't junk. something worth $100,000
can be pure clutter to you if it causes discomfort and anxiety or insulates you from love or a relationship.
One of the biggest reasons we keep junk is that we hate to admit mistakes. Often we acquire a thing, a job, a habit that we absolutely hate the minute after we get it. But we don't get around to taking it back (or quitting,
or stopping) though it's a constant pain to maintain, to own, to be around. In general it makes life miserable but we keep it -- why? Because we don't want to admit we were wrong or greedy for a moment or made a bad judgement.
...When you pause with the decision in mind or in hand -- shall it go or shall it stay with me -- when logic and even emotion can't manage to help you reach a decision, ask yourself, "What will my life be like without
this?" Don't think about it (the thing) -- think about you, your life, your freedom.
on How to Get Rid of It:
Start with 3 large heavy-duty garbage bags and one box. Label them:
4. EMOTIONAL WITHDRAWAL (the box)
Dragging the bags and box behind you, systemically attack every room in the house [or apt]. Assign every junk suspect... to one of the bags or the box.
[Editor's summary: Take the contents of JUNK to the trash, the contents of CHARITY to friends, relatives, or a thrift store, and keep the SORT bag to resort a month later. Store WITHDRAWAL for 6 months to a year in a place where you can still get stuff from it if you want, and then give the box away without looking at the contents. If you haven't needed the contents within that year, you won't likely need it in the next, or the next, or the next...]
A visitor's comment:
Date: Sun, 09 Nov 1997
From: Rosalind LoBuono (rlobuono at earthlink.net)
This page gave me a good laugh. My mother always called me "The Collier
Brothers," because of my cluttered house. They lived up-state N.Y., I
think. They died and weren't found for days because of their clutter. I
think this happened in the forties. Today was ideal to come across this
page, I "cleaned" house, and I can hear my mom nagging me from above
about my clutter: "The Collier Brothers, Collier Brothers, that's what
this house looks like" This page came just in time for a laugh..... I
am typing this with tears....thank you for your great sense of humor.
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