Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Thoughts about throwing things away

By Chuck Woodbury

Originally published in March, 2010

I’m now in my second week at my late-parents’ home in Grass Valley, Calif., cleaning the place out in preparation for its sale. Most of the little stuff is gone now. The other day I found four pieces of candy near my mother’s easy chair. She had hidden it because my father thought she ate too much of it. At first I laughed, then I felt a pang of sadness at missing my mother. But mostly I laughed.

Then yesterday, as I was cleaning out the cabinet below the kitchen sink, I found a jar filled with a dozen old toothbrushes. I suspect that my parents — who were young adults during the Great Depression — could not bear to part with them. That’s not unusual behavior for their generation, which never forgot its times of hardship and need. So hoarding things “just in case” seemed right.

I laughed at the sight of the toothbrushes. What use could my parents possibly have for a dozen old toothbrushes? It would make sense to have one or two for cleaning crevices in the kitchen or bathroom. But a dozen?

My real estate agent John Brady took me to dinner last night at the local food co-op, where there is an excellent deli and a small dining area. At the checkout line, John told me, “You know, I hear they have great soup, but I have never ordered it even though I have been a member here for 32 years.” He said he didn’t know why in all those years he had never ordered soup. He just hadn’t.

THAT LED TO A DISCUSSION about how people can sometimes act illogically even when they know they are being illogical. For example, I can leave a small item on the corner of my kitchen counter for a month or longer, even though I know full well I should just pick it up and put it where it belongs, which is often in the trash. This could be a business card, a Euro coin I found in a pair of pants, or a tax receipt.

I consciously tell myself that I should deal with the object: It’s silly to see it there day after day. But for a reason that baffles me, I will often just ignore it. Then one day, I will simply pick up the object and move it to where it belongs. Just like that. At that point I feel good and I wonder what took me so long. I do this often. Strange. . .

But enough about this, because this website is about RVing and not about psychology.



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