Don’t Blame Your Mama

How much stuff do we keep for the Great One Day? We say things like, “My mom taught me to keep everything in case I need it One Day.” or “I’m going to fix that One Day.” or “I’m going to make something else with that One Day.” One Day is not a day. Today is a day. Tomorrow. Yesterday. This Thursday is a day, but One Day is not a day.

There is a generational curse of Clutter Keeping and I think it’s roots are embedded in learned behavior.

If you’re not familiar with the term generational curse, you could assume the definition fairly accurately, although I hate the word curse because growing up in a very superstitious Italian family, that word was not one to be taken lightly. However the term generational curse is a bit less dooming and is used within my church family to explain the succession of vices or habitual stumbling blocks from one generation to another. Generational curses can be broken. Being cursed by an Italian, I’m not so sure.

In my family we struggle with the generational curse of excessive worrying. I accredit much of this to how much superstitions played a part in our family values. As a young adult I denounced all superstitions in my life because I realized I was living in a state of constant anxiety. These beliefs gave me a false since of control, but also doom on my life. I felt like I could never do right enough.

Most of the memories I have of my grandmother was her insisting that she was going to be dead by the next year. She lived to be 91, but I think she was predicting her death for at least half of her life. I think it was because she constantly lived with the fear that some illogical doing of her own would eventually take her out. I didn’t want to pass this behavior on to my daughter, so I worked to halt this generational curse on our family.

But anyway, lets get back to the topic of stuff. We like to keep things for the sake of the Great One Day. At one time this may have been practical but today it’s making us miserable. Only a few generations ago, America was thriving on small business, high quality, long lasting products. The saying, “They don’t make things like they used to.” is getting more true everyday.

My grandmother was born in 1920. She would have been 100 years old this March. Over the span of her life time, I believe we’ve transitioned from less, higher quality goods to more, lower quality goods in circulation.

At a young age, my grandmother would have enjoyed new inventions such as automobiles, radios, TV (black and white only), and washing machines.

My mother at a young age enjoyed inventions like cassette tapes, microwaves, and cordless (not cell) phones. She is also part of the generation that experienced the rise of fast food.

Today, we have blankets with sleeves, cords to hold our cordless ear pods, and terms like fast furniture to describe cheaply made furniture that is made to look good but never expected to last more than 5 years.

We’ve been so accustomed to low quality products that we don’t even expect most of what we buy to last but only months or a few years. And while the old saying, “They don’t make things like they used to.” is proving truer than ever, the old saying, “You might want to keep that just in case.” still replays in our heads every time we need to get rid of something. We have too much and access to too much. We can’t keep it all, nor is it all worth keeping.

Our moms and grandmothers aren’t to blame for our inclination to clutter. They had no idea how consumerism would be in our adult generation. It’s just learned behavior passed down from a time when it may have actually made sense to keep nearly everything.

When I think about my grandmother enjoying a CAR as a new and exciting way of life, it really puts a perspective on how I live today and how much I can live without. It also makes me realize one fact that has remained consistent – to have fewer, high quality items is still better than too many, low quality things.

So let’s look at these truths and realize that we face a great challenge today, clutter-wise. We have the ability to purchase more luxuries and conveniences than ever before and cheaper than ever before. Higher quality, longer lasting purchases are still a smarter decision, but we have to be intentional to find out where those products are and also make sure that we are buying items that work for our lives, not products that we are made to believe will make our lives more efficient.

In my post The Fastest Way to Clutter, I talked about filling a home with functional furniture as opposed to filler pieces. Our stuff needs to serve us, not the other way around. Every thing we take into our home becomes another thing to manage. If we are ever going to beat the cycle of clutter, we need to retrain our minds from, “You might want to keep that just in case.” to a more appropriate incite for where we are today. Ask, “Is the convenience worth the consumption?” An item in and of itself my be functional, but when you decide to purchase it, will that functionality/convenience be worth the time you’ll invest in managing the product, or will it be something buried in a pile of clutter waiting on the Great One Day?

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