I did the unthinkable last night and watched the first episode of Britain’s Biggest Hoarders:
It was truly horrifying. Immediately after watching it, I felt the need to clean and cull.
So I cleaned the kitchen bench.
And the stove.
I culled some paperwork that had just been sitting around on the buffet.
And I threw out some paperwork too that I didn’t need any more but that had been just lying around.
And I sorted.
I don’t know why watching a show about people with rubbish piled high to the ceiling would make me feel the urge to clean and cull, but it did. Up until that point, I was thinking Uh oh, maybe I’m a hoarder too. Because I do find it hard to let go of possessions that have been with me a long time.
But you know what? Watching that show sorted me right out. It was just sad. First I felt horrified at all the dirt and mess and clutter (well, it was beyond clutter but I can’t think of any other name for it!) and filth. I felt disgust and repulsion at the people who lived that way, their lives controlled by the rubbish they collected around them. I felt no pity.
But the more I watched, the more pity I felt. These were ill people. People who had no life. People who were lonely. People who were depressed. The pity in me grew, and I felt a kinship with my fellow humans who I could see were in distress and who were suffering.
I don’t understand hoarding. I don’t really understand what it is in all of us – or at least most of us – that stops us from letting go of possessions long after their worth has passed.
What I do know is that watching these people in their extreme clutter helped me see that my own possessions really are just stuff. Unless they’re of active use to me, or to someone else in my family, they’re a weight around my neck.
I learned a lot from the hoarders I saw on the show above. I learned that our addiction to our stuff can be toxic. It can be poison. Wisdom comes from knowing when to hold, but also when to let go.