A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
Life can be difficult and confusing at times. Having too much stuff around merely adds to the confusion. The solution is simple: Get rid of the stuff you don't need. Ask yourself the following questions about your stuff:
Do I really need this?
How long (days, months, years) has it been since I used this?
How likely is it that I will use this in the next (day, week, month, century)?
Am I too sentimentally attached to this stuff to throw it away?
Name five reasons why it is important to keep this stuff.
Name five reasons why you have never gotten rid of this stuff.
Write down five benefits from getting rid of this stuff.
Where and to whom can I give away this stuff?
How many garbage cans will it take to get rid of the stuff that no one on earth would ever want?
Can I help someone in need by giving away stuff I hate, don't use, haven't ever used (much), and do not intend ever, ever to use again, at least in this life?
Who in my family or among my friends would like keepsakes that would likely get thrown out if something happens to me? (Like if I die, for instance).
You might weep and wail over tossing stuff you haven't paid any attention to for decades, but you'll get over it quickly. When people realize that, after all, they didn't need a "dream home" with 27 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms and begin to downsize after Esmerelda and Junior finally moved out, the last of umpteen kids who populated your mansion heretofore, the first thing people have to do is get rid of most of their stuff. However traumatic that selling your house where you have 10 doorposts with the growth marks of 10 kids still marked on them turns out to be, I can promise you from experience and from talking to countless other people who have downsized that you will never miss your dream home or your stuff.
Here is the main advantage of getting rid of stuff: Life is simplified. Life is less complicated. You have less stuff to replace, wear out, fix, and insure. Your new house is easier to navigate in. You no longer have to be a professional heavy-duty janitor to keep thousands of square feet of unused space dusted, vacuumed, cleaned, and scrubbed in case someone comes to visit and would leave commenting about your dirty house. Plus you may not have room in case one, two, or three of your kids decide it would be cheaper to move back in with mom and dad for several years while they get their feet on the ground, so to speak.
While you are busy decluttering your house, you might declutter your mind of excess garbage. For example, here are some things you can toss and get rid of:
Excess worries. Worries are baggage that drag you down. Worries have never accomplished anything. Believe me, I am a veteran worrier and I speak from decades of experience. You can't make progress on achieving any of your goals or making any changes until you stomp out the worries. Substitute good and cheerful thoughts for gloomy and pessimistic thoughts.
Grudges. Grudges keep you locked in neutral. You spend too much time being angry at someone else instead of motivating yourself to actually (split infinitive!) do something about your long overdue plan to achieve a goal.
Habits. Dump all of your worthless habits in the garbage can.
Buying sprees. Avoid the mall. Avoid online infomercials. Avoid Amazon. You don't need new packages showing up on your doorstep daily, hourly. You don't need any more stuff.
Excuses. Name all of the excuses that have prevented you from losing weight, cutting down on spending, kept you from cleaning up clutter, mired you in difficult family relationships, and chuck each and every feeble and worthless excuse down the disposal, turn on the grinder, and watch them vanish.
There. You could have spent many dollars on a library of books that tell you how to solve all of your problems and declutter your house and brain. Think of the money you have saved just by reading the Curmudgeonly Professor's Task number 208. You haven't added one bit of clutter to your lives and you wouldn't have read past the first two or three paragraphs of any magic book you bought anyway. So set a goal and a time limit to get rid of stuff and enjoy your simplified and clutter-free life. Good luck, and keep going. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
The Fourth of July is best known and best remembered as a day of parades with horses and bands and colored bunting and flags. Then we remember the barbecues and the picnics and the hot dogs and the hamburgers and the potato salad and the lemonade. The night is brightly and loudly lit with fireworks and explosions. We eat too much, we celebrate, and we all love the 4th of July.
Our task today, however, is to make the 4th of July more meaningful and important in our lives. We take so much for granted in our country, in our lives, that we often pay relatively little attention to our responsibilities in this wonderful democracy in which we live. Here are three ways that we can make a lasting contribution to our country:
Vote. How can we appreciate living in our democracy and then not live up to our responsibility to vote? Yet we are all to quick to complain and remain bitter about what the people who are elected have done and are doing or perhaps not doing. If the flag tells us anything, it tells us that we have responsibilities in our democracy and one of the first and most important responsibilities is to vote. Our chosen candidate may not win, but at least we can feel that we lived up to our basic obligation to vote.
Be informed. Though our responsibility is to vote, we must vote only after we gain enough knowledge and information so that we can vote wisely. We must not cast our vote just because we hate the opposite political party or candidate or because someone on cable news or our uncle told us to vote for this or that person or this or that referendum. A democracy cannot function well in ignorance and with choices made by bias or prejudice.
Participate in our democracy. Volunteer for chores to help with elections, campaigns, fund drives, local government chores, community beautification and cleanup, school functions, charitable drives, soup kitchens, food drives, help in hospitals and nursing homes, or any of countless other possibilities. We were not meant to be passive bystanders in our democracy.
Today we fly the stars and stripes and enjoy our picnics. Monday morning the main traffic artery in the south Salt Lake UT valley visible from my back window will once more be filled with cars at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. and after with people going to work, making it possible for all of us to have the necessities of life and to enjoy our daily existence. Today, however, a few moments of reflection on the 4th of July reminds us that we all have obligations and responsibilities to contribute to the country we live in. The Curmudgeonly Professor.
Amazingly, we have reached the 4th of July 2013 after half the year has gone by. During this past six months, we were going to lose weight, repent of our sins, be nice to rude people at WalMart, avoid swearing at ignorant drivers, and clean out the garage. Among other duties, tasks, and procrastinations. I woke up at 7:00, a rare occurrence since I am usually awake by 5:00 a.m. and go around sleep deprived and grumpy all day. I put the flag out in our front yard, retrieved the newspapers, and sat down to read all about today's tragedies. But then I found the Declaration of Independence, reproduced in its entirety, on the editorial page of the Salt Lake Trib. I read it slowly, word for word, recognizing most of the words of this incredible document. I marveled once more at the brilliance, courage, eloquence, and decisiveness of this incredible group of men and of the man who penned and summarized the thoughts of all who participated in this momentous event. Democracy in our country has not always lived up to the high ideals so wonderfully expressed in this immortal document, but the United States is our democracy and we will take it, warts and all, to any other form of government that has ever been devised. We scratch our heads at egregious acts, deeds, and words by the uninformed and the overzealous. But we are a government "of the people and by the people and for the people" and people are not perfect. We forge ahead, rejoicing in our successes, mending our mistakes, cussing those with whom we disagree. But in the end, we all come together and remain speaking to one another, celebrating the 4th of July and all it stands for one more time and, for that, we give eternal thanks.