My earlier post on decluttering captures some of my thoughts after reading Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Since then, I read another book on the same topic—’The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter‘ by Margareta Magnusson. What a harsh topic! The idea is that if we—as parents or even grandparents—don’t tidy up our belonging while we are still alive, our children or grandchildren will have to do it posthumously. I think that is pretty strong motivation for us to get started right away to tidy up.
While the notion is good, we can hit a roadblock really quickly. For instance, you may say that you cannot get rid of this thing and that thing, because they are so adorable/valuable/memorable. You want your children to inherit them so that they get to enjoy the same things you do.
An anecdote is most timely here. John, my brother-in-law, is an avid coin collector. He would make frequent crosstown trips to coin shops to search for that special coin on his wish list. John made a telling observation about a frequent scenario in a coin shop. A young person would come into the coin shop carrying bagfuls of unsorted coins. A typical conversation with the shopkeeper would go like this.
‘My dad/mom/granddad/granny left behind these coins. I know they are worth something because (s)he spent so much time with them. Now, give me the best possible price, and you can keep them.’
The shopkeeper would then casually scan through the large pile of coins .
‘I’m sorry about your dad/mom/granddad/granny. These coins aren’t worth much these days. Because your dad/mom/granddad/granny was such a good customer, I’ll take them off your hands for …’
Of course, some of those coins would end up being gems which customers like John would pay a hefty premium to acquire later.
If you are passing on something to your children, make sure that you discuss with them beforehand, and that they truly value it as a keepsake. Remember the coin shop.
Tidying up is more than a prior arrangement for that final day. Many of us baby boomers will look into downsizing as a result of lifestyle changes such as when our children move out. I will share in the next post my tried-and-true ways to rid a home of the unwanted stuff, which do not involve just chucking it into the garbage can.
Somebody will need to clean up the mess, so why not us and why not now?
When you have time, use it, wisely.