By Monte Lazarus
As we progress through life, if we’re lucky enough to improve our fortunes (admittedly more difficult these days) and if we live long enough, we tend to move for any number of reasons. Families are no longer staying in one neighborhood, or even one city. Those of us who attend a college probably move into a rooming house or dormitory joining another one to three roommates. Usually one or more are – to put it bluntly – slobs. On the other hand, a few of us wind up rooming with an obsessive/compulsive neatnik. Which is worse? That’s usually a matter of personality. It’s easier to abide someone who’s funny, personable and no smarter than we are…or think we are.
As we enter the daunting world of WORK, we usually begin by living in a small rental or condominium apartment or, perhaps, a small house. There we enter the dreaded world of Accumulation. It’s part of the culture, our DNA or a combination of both. There’s something inborn in the human species or, at least the male segment, that requires retaining every one of our worthless possessions. Example: I own eight cameras; most of them being the old types that actually used film. I cannot bear parting with any of them, even when I can’t find or use film, and even when I upgrade equipment. I once sold one for a fair price, and have regretted it ever since. Why? I couldn’t even find the type of film it used. But, it was MINE!
I own clothing in three sizes: (1) the skinny guy stuff dating back – probably – to the time I left the Army; (2) the professional type guy from my lawyer and corporate days and; (3) the fat man tent clothes from my Marco Island beachcomber sojourn. Intellectually I know that I’ll never again fit into the skinny guy stuff; but nostalgia trumps reality. With my fanatic dieting (down over 40 pounds and still going) I can probably get into the professional guy stuff, notwithstanding that it’s got a good chance of having mold, as well as being out-of-style. I can no longer wear my fat guy garb because, when I take off my belt, my pants fall down. Furthermore, when I walk in my fat guy clothes my rear end billows like a parachute. I’ve pledged to get rid of those monsters, but will I? Doubtful.
One of the retention problems stems from the fact that as we have families and move upward economically (if we do) most of us seem to keep everything because we can, since we’re in larger quarters. Then, the time comes to down size. So, we start to move to smaller digs. It finally sinks in: we’re running out of room for all of the unusable junk. Then come (1) trips to Goodwill and/or the Bargain Basket and; (2) the garbage bin.
At last we have found the solution to being prisoners of our possessions. We must move more often. I propose that we institute term limits on living in one place. Yes, term limits! Every set number of years we shall be required to move. Of course this will not affect the physically handicapped or the very rich.
To make the process fashionably bureaucratic we should establish completely artificial time limits to avoid any accusation of fairness. There are extra benefits.
We’ll have more reason to complain, seek new legislation to change or eliminate the time limits, and write countless letters to the editor. We’ll set up a new office called Department of Utilitarian Movement (DUM) thereby employing lots of people. We’ll also form citizens groups on both sides of the issue to keep us busy in our dotage. Happily we’ll solve two problems: we’ll get rid of a lot of junk, and we’ll have something to keep us occupied as we petition our representatives and exercise our right of free speech. Just imagine the campaign promises!