In my blog post a few weeks ago about “The Conquering Clutter Resolution”, I described strategies for trying not to let clutter accumulate. However, I have a secret to share: I admit I have a hard time letting go of good cardboard boxes.
I hate laying blame on being the child of “waste not, want not” parents, but their philosophy is quite valid in this case: Have you ever tried to BUY sturdy gift boxes? For some reason, a really great gift box plus its wrapping and adornments can end up costing more than the gift it contains. It’s crazy!
Here is a typical scenario for me: Whenever I get a new pair of shoes and the shoe box is in impeccable condition, or I receive mail order products in a snazzy packing box, I think to yourself, “Oh my, what a great box. This would be the perfect size for a birthday or Christmas gift.”
Then as the year goes on, throwing my arms up in glee with each new box that arrives, I accumulate a closet full of them precariously stacked up like a game of Jenga or boxed up like babushka dolls. Then, when the gift giving occasion comes around, for some reason, I end up at the dollar store and get gift bags and tissue.
Anyone else?… Anyone?… Anyone?
After that realization last year, I did a big purge of the accumulation of boxes right after the holidays. I resolved that if they hadn’t been used up by that point, odds are, they won’t be until next Christmas. It did not make sense to hang on to them and take up valuable space for the next 12 months, so the X-Acto knife came out. It was a euphoric experience to see the mountain go down and fill an entire recycling bin. The reclaimed space was wonderful. I could breathe again. I surpassed my 1 cubic foot de-cluttering goal that week, for sure!
That is… until the next mail order box arrived. It was a perfectly shaped cube of sturdy yet light cardboard. Despite the many kilometers it travelled, it suffered almost no damage: no cuts, no bumps, no bruises, and without the customary postal service labels plastered over every square inch of it. It was quite suitable for a gift giving occasion.
Oh no!… I immediately felt a cold sweat form across my brow.
The compulsion to hang on to another box kicked in. I knew I was deeply attracted to this new box, but knew it was not good for me to try to keep it. When I tried to toss it into the recycle bin, I felt a surge of sadness come over me. I could have sworn it made a sound as it hit the hard plastic wall of the black bin. Clearly, I was not prepared to say goodbye yet.
I picked up the box and looked at it again. It was the perfect size for so many gift giving possibilities, even if just a tissue-wrapped gift card.
It pained me to think of tossing away a near-perfect box that survived its journey of thousands of kilometres without showing so much as a nick or a dent. How could I discard a box that got bounced around between several machines and conveyer belts, passed through numerous pairs of hands along the way and still remained strong?
When I thought about it some more, this box was a clear representation of the human spirit, and our potential for resilience in the face of adversity. We survive long journeys in life, facing much jostling and countless bumps along the way, but yet we still reach our destinations. Through our dedication and passion for fulfilling our purpose in life, we sometimes arrive as fresh-looking as the box before me.
I couldn’t do it.
Oh well, with birthdays, Easter and Mother’s Day around the corner, hanging on to this ONE box can’t hurt, can it?
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Have a great day,