In addition to getting rid of stuff, successful decluttering also requires that you stop bringing stuff home. Stop buying, stop thrifting, stop dumpster diving, stop online shopping, stop bringing more clutter into the house.
A couple of days ago I was walking to work and listening to Dan Savage’s podcast (The Savage Lovecast) when I passed a city garbage can outside the drug store on Gladstone. I was kind of absorbed in the podcast, so the contents of the garbage can didn’t really register until I was a few steps past it. But then it kicked in, and I wheeled around and went back to it.
The garbage receptacle was overflowing, and on the top, like icing on the cake, was somebody’s wedding album.
“Bonanza!” said the little voice inside my head that loves all things random and bizarre. “Take it!”
My hand reached for it.
“No!” said the decluttering voice. “It’s clutter!”
I stood there, hand halfway to the garbage can, listening to the voices argue, while Dan Savage, in the background, dispensed advice to a topless maid who was feeling guilty because some of her clients are married men.
It was a binder-type album, and some of the pages were loose. I brokered a compromise between the two voices – I took one page. Four photos. Both voices grumbled a bit, and off we went.
After Dan finished with the topless maid, it occurred to me that there were other things in that garbage receptacle that hadn’t registered right away. I’m pretty sure, for example, that there was a small white prescription bag, still stapled shut. I don’t know what else. I was tempted to go back, but I was already running a bit late.
Who do you suppose these people are, and how did their wedding album end up in a City-owned garbage receptacle on Gladstone Avenue?