So… Over the weekend a producer from the Huffington Post Live contacted me about participating in a segment they’re doing today via Google Hangout at 2:30 pm ET on hoarding. I’m not available then, but I told her she might wish to contact my father, who is both a hoarder and a child of a hoarder…
Zoltana cc’d me on your correspondence. I shan’t be able to participate in any way. That’s partly because I’m old, computer illiterate and never do video feeds or teleconferencing, so communicating is reduced to patchy cell phone or email bits. But also partly because I’m relatively happy with my state and tend to shut down when folks treat it as an affliction, so I shy away from discussions.
Hoarding can sometimes be suffocating, and the clutter has reached a level that effectively makes me a hermit; it has now been five years since I stopped having rehearsals, parties or holiday dinners at home. But not having watched TV for a decade or more, I react fairly strongly to the popular hackneyed language of public discourse. For example, I see ‘hoarding’ , or at least my hoarding, as a failure to discard things, not as a compulsive acquisition of things; time provides the increase. Viewed thus, it is not an active pursuit but a defect of the housekeeping instinct. But I’m not illogical; I have to admit that perhaps only I would notice, let alone believe that I should take home, an obscure 19th century musical instrument, book or tool because it’s working, or may be fixable, or only costs two bucks. And while I frequently pass along books I have read, and fix up instruments and put them in the hands of young players, some of my other ‘favorite things’ or acquisitions really have no redemptive features, and truly are compulsions, or unquestioned acquisitions. For a while I bought twentieth century espresso machines, contemporary motorcycle helmets, and cowboy boots. Why? Comparative shopping, which is bred into us. I use one espresso machine, wear one set of boots, and use only one ratty old decaying motorcycle helmet. But who could resist a kitchen utensil of beauty for two bucks? And who could throw it out once acquired? Or Lucchese boots ($400 value, that fit great) for $5, even if I only wear them once a year when I feel like being goofy (I live in Boston where only Texans wear western gear). But space has recently asserted its limits and I mostly resist these little no-brainer gems that were formerly irresistable. The hard trick will be to not even look, and to methodically throw away. I’m working on it, but if you use a physicist’s definition of work (Force times distance moved) it doesn’t look like it.
So that’s my hoarding diatribe. Cleaning up is damn hard! I did appreciatethe opportunity to reflect a bit. Good luck putting together your hangingout event.