A Qualitative Judgement

Well, the decluttering death march continues at its snail’s pace.

Yeah, that’s hyperbole. Not so much about the “snail’s pace” bit, but more the self-indulgent and ham-handed analogy. After all, struggling with the quote-unquote burden of too much abundance in my life and home is the Firstiest of First World Problems, wouldn’t you say?

(At least my Sonicare still works…)

Anyhow, I spent another 90 minutes or so in the basement working on the unpacking, filled up the rest of the space in that fourth clothing bag I started yesterday for Goodwill, and set a few more clothes for Goodwill on an extra chair in the dining room. (Not quite enough accumulated to make starting bag #5 worthwhile.) And I did a partial purge of the pens in the house.

I’m thinking one of the biggest emotions I’m going to have to be processing as I try to “Kondo” my life is guilt. Guilt about my shopping addiction, guilt about having accumulated so much more stuff than any rational human should need, even guilt over the likelihood that I have accumulated more than can be used in one lifetime. More blank journals than can be filled with diary entries, more books than can be read, more cross stitch kits than can be stitched, more candles than can be burnt, more pens than can be used. (Or, if I haven’t reached Life-Exceeding Quantity yet, I’m certainly on my way to there, since I continue to acquire these times faster than I can use what I already have stashed away.)

Since I’ve been stewing in that guilt during the last two days of dealing with the messy miscellany boxes, I decided to take it easy on myself by unpacking some of my cross-stitch supplies into the cabinet we purchased and assembled for them over the winter.* And there’s some thoughts and emotions to process around stitching and the cross-stitch stash, but that’s another story for another day.

never-too-many-pensToday, I want to talk about those pens. It was another unplanned project, like yesterday’s closet purge, and, like the closet, it was another project that presented itself rather organically.

I accidentally knocked a storage basket off a bookshelf in my office–a storage basket which I thought was only holding steno pads and small notebooks, but turned out to have, underneath that layer of notebooks, a whole passel of writing implements.

These writing tools, as small items so often do when their container goes ass-over-tea-kettle, helpfully shot all across the floor.

As I was picking everything up, I was turning over in my head my self-annoyance about my shopping addiction and my office supplies addiction, and a hypothetical calculation around the odds of having reached LEQ for pens and pencils in the house.

Then I took a good look at these pens–and the ones in the pencil cups on my desk–and really started thinking about how many of them have logos on them. Pens I picked up in hotels, or at business conferences or heaven-knows where else. Pens that I always tell myself I have to “use up” before I’m “allowed” to use the pens I’ve bought for myself.

Let me say that again, just to spell out how fucking insane this line of thought is. It is quite possible that I’ve already coveted, bought, and stored more pens than I could use during the rest of my years on this earth. But I don’t actually write with any of the pens I chose, coveted and bought—all because I have to use up all the crappy marketing pens first.

So I’ve decided that life is too short to use marketing pens. I’ve pulled out all the logo-pens I could spot and thrown them into a bag to take to the office. We’re a non-profit and we’re always looking to save money on office supplies. Let them go to decent use. And if Coworker A or B decides that a particular logo-pen is such crappy quality that they trash it, I trust their backbone to make that decision a lot more than I trust my own.

Since I am so fortunate as to be “burdened” with overabundance, and since I’m trying to winnow the possessions down to a more rational quantity, I guess I might as well winnow things down to the small(er)** selection of items that brings me happiness.

* See what I mean about “several months’ neglect” for this project?

** I don’t yet trust that I’ll get down to an objectively “small” amount. But smaller? That much I can do.


Image credit: “You can never have too many pens” by Flickr user Adrianne Mathiowetz.  Unaltered. Licensed via a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) license.

5 thoughts on “A Qualitative Judgement

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