The Journal | Top Stories | Photo Collections | News | Subscriptions | Contact Us

Subscriptions to
The Journal
start at only
$20 per year.
For details
click here.
In Defense of Hoarders
Click here
for more
opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the Feb. 9, 2022 issue of The Journal
   This past Sunday I decided to spend the afternoon simply relaxing and reading, only getting out of my "easy chair" if I wanted another cup of coffee.
   However, after 40 pages or so, I sat When All Is Said by Anne Griffin down on the side table and realized just how much "stuff" surrounded it (as well as the little "table" portion of the lamp beside it).
   Books, magazines, snack containers, ball caps, and I would soon discover, lots of stuff I had forgotten about. I decided I had been hoarding this pile too long and that I should take five minutes to sort through it and clean the area up.
   Those were the longest "five minutes" of my day, as I spent most of the afternoon marveling at just how much the tiny area had accumulated.
   First to go into the trash were the old magazines, including around a dozen copies of Runner's World, which only publishes every other month. Yeah, that'll give you an idea of how long it had been since my last purge of the side table.
   I'm sure I had good reasons for holding on to them for so long. I mean, you never know when you need to be reminded in a slightly different way that you shouldn't run hard every outing and that you should stretch your muscles out every now and then.
   Once I had tossed all of the old magazines, relocated already read books, and moved the snacks back into the kitchen, the real discoveries began.
   I found a really nice Christmas present from at least five years ago. It's a Ridge wallet, which is a slim, metal, minimalist take on the bill-fold. Being the traditionalist that I am (that sounds better than "being lazy"), I had held on to my traditional wallet, even as it continued to fade and fray.
   Since I was in the "out with the old" mode, I decided to try it out. Good decision. It's smaller, easy to organize, and offers RFID protection.
   An almost full container of leather shoe lotion was also in the mix, so I paused to clean up a pair of shoes.
   I then rediscovered the "Handmaster Plus" that a doctor had given me to help deal with chronic tennis elbow. I had used it a few times then gave it a death sentence by placing it on my disorganized side table. I recently visited a physical therapist and have been rehabbing the elbow/arm yet again, so now I have another tool for the effort.
   There were various other items discovered. Most were things that made me ask, "Why in the world didn't I just throw that away?"
   However, the prized find of the day was my mother's personal family history that she had painstakingly compiled over the last years of her life. I remember how happy I was when I first saw it and how lucky I felt that she took the time to do it.
   I then also realized I was pretty lucky to have buried it for a while instead of putting it away for safe keeping.
   So, I guess this is actually a defense of hoarding. It can lead to some wonderful discoveries!