I don’t watch the reality show about hoarding because I have more than one person in my life who hoard, and I have more than one friend who have more than one person in their lives who hoard. There is nothing entertaining about hoarding.
My father was more than frugal. It made sense when we didn’t have much. He saved things and stuff for a time of scarce. He fixed things with the stuff he collected and saved. He didn’t allow us to throw away things. I didn’t understand the logic behind keeping broken fridges and TVs in our backyard, though. “It’s good for a tool shed,” he said. The rusty old fridge is still there. It doesn’t look like a fridge anymore. I don’t know if there are tools inside.
We were really lucky because he didn’t save newspaper and magazines.
I used to travel back and forth between the U.S. and my old country schlepping a large suitcase. After years of airline check in baggage treatment, it cracked. I got a new one and asked my mom to get rid of the beaten up one. When I visited them a year later, I found the broken suitcase in my parent’s bedroom.
“What the hell is it doing in your bedroom?” I asked. “Your dad didn’t let me throw it away,” my mother said. My father doesn’t like to travel. He doesn’t even like to go out of the county. Where did he think he was going with the broken suitcase? It was not about being frugal anymore. They had to have storage sheds built in the backyard for the stuff… three of them.
Inside the house, my mom managed to contain his madness in one room. It was filled with empty boxes, toilet paper rolls, tissue paper boxes, and bars of cheap soap. “Why did you buy so many bars of soap?” I asked my mother. “They were on sale,” she said. “Your father drove all the way to the shopping center to buy them.” I stared at piles of soap bars probably enough to supply for three life time, and said to myself, “How long is he planning to live?”
When I stand and stare at the room full of toilet paper rolls, tissue paper boxes, and bars of cheap soap among other stuff, I see my father’s fear. I feel trapped. I lose the will to change. The fear steeps out and penetrates into who I am.
I know it is not my fear, but I need to be aware of its presence.
Universe provides what one needs. My father lived in the same house for the most of his life, creating fortress with stuff, a fortress for him, a prison to me. I moved many times, one time across the Pacific with a single suitcase, several times out of broken relationships. I was forced to shed stuff like a stray dog. As soon as I settled in a new place, usually smaller than the one before, I started accumulating stuff. Every time I moved, I had to choose what should be part of my life and what should not. It served as a priceless mindfulness training. I still accumulate stuff, while I know my fear. Universe doesn’t have to force me to move anymore just to remind me to choose. Once in a while I do it voluntarily, especially when I witness somebody else’s fear in their space full of stuff.