I’m a big fan of Shakespeare – I may be one of the few not to have been put off him forever by ‘doing Shakespeare’ in English at school.
I like the ‘7 ages of man’ speech but am realizing that if he’d lived in a more modern, material world he might have also included the ‘7 ages of materiality’.
The ages, as far as I see them, are:
- first age, having loads of stuff bought for you as a child
- second age, wanting loads of stuff as a teenager but not having the cash to buy it;
- third age (if you are lucky), acquiring some cash and the stuff that it buys;
- fourth age, arrival of children and the acquisition of stuff for them;
- fifth age, getting children off the balance sheet and acquiring more stuff for yourself;
- sixth age realization that you really don’t need everything you’ve spent so long (and so much) acquiring and a dawning that you’d leave one hell of a mess for your children to clear out when you’re gone, leading to the start of a process of de-cluttering
- seventh age, (I hope) being happy with what you’ve got.
We’ve entered the sixth age recently. It’s quite therapeutic, even though it is a bit depressing to have reached stage six out of seven – I’m just hoping that stage 7 is a particularly long one.
It’s all been brought home to us through the process of clearing out my mother-in-law’s house – not a huge place any means but still a massive undertaking. The scale of the challenge for our own place was highlighted by the realization that, with garden furniture and the contents of garages, sheds and outbuildings, we’d probably fill a removal lorry before we moved on to the house itself.
Mrs Omil has been doing a great job on the house while I’ve shuffled paper around in the study (and moved furniture inexpertly, leading to the sciatica).
I am now starting to confront the garages and sheds.
Part of the problem is that I have inherited a hoarding gene from my father. His principle was “I’ll keep it because it will come in handy, even if I never use it”. I think this is worsened by the fact that I’m from a less disposable-oriented age – I don’t like throwing away things that still work.
The solution, in part, has been raising the bar in terms of exactly how useful things really are, and loads of stuff being given to the local charity shops.
What all this has done is make me focus on the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’ – it’s easy to confuse the two. I’m sure everybody will have a different take on this but, for me, I’m wondering if there might be a rule that says a happy balance could be achieved by having as much as you can of what you truly need, and perhaps only 10% of what you want.
This brings me back to clearing the garages and sheds and confronting the 25+ bikes I have stored there.
Of course, it is unthinkable to get rid of bikes or bike parts or cycling kit. This can be avoided simply by putting such things firmly in the ‘need’ category.
However, I constantly buy things I already have because I can’t put my hands on them when they are needed (sets of allen keys are the prime example of this – I must have 6 sets somewhere). Some clearing out might actually help me with a bit of organisation – this is Mrs O’s forcefully expressed opinion. I hate to admit it but this just might be an example of ‘less is more’ and I am weakening.
I have started to think the unthinkable – could there ever be a case for the rule ‘n-1’ ????
As impressive as your bike collection is, I think it’s certainly time for a bit of a clear out and shed tidy!
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I feel that I should disagree – but in all honesty I can’t. I think some de-cluttering might actually feel liberating.
However, as a man with a newly acquired shed which is the size of some small African countries, will you be able to resist filling it?
N+1 until n becomes a number too great for you to spend time on all of the bikes!
I’m going to keep the ones I ride most (which happily include the ones that have sentimental attachments such as the first I built and the one I used for L’Eroica), and the Italian porn: two Colnagos, the Masi, the Daccordi and the De Rosa simply because they are lovely and great to ride on special occasions. Looks like the retention target is 10.
The 1955 Elswick stays – we arrived on the planet in the same year and the aim is that each birthday I ride it for the number of miles of that birthday (while I can).
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Sounds reasonable to me! Enjoy.
I’m super impressed with your collection. While I would love to have them myself, I had to rid myself of any packrat tendencies last year when we moved from Illinois to Florida and no longer had a basement to collect all of our unused stuff. I must say that at no time in the last 18 months have I said to myself that I wished I had something back. Just declutter selectively and you’ll be happy in the end. Good luck and hope you’re feeling better by the day!
Thank you Jeff – that’s very kind of you. With temperatures only a little above freezing here, I think my collection is much less impressive than your climate!
After years of acquisitions, I feel very happy about undertaking some disposals – and it’s really to hear about your positive experience so I’m grateful for the encouragement.
Light at the end of the sciatica tunnel, thank you!