H: Holding On – What It’s Really Like

H: Holding On – What It’s Really Like

This post is part of a series titled, “A-B-Cs – What It’s Really Like”. Each week a new letter and its word will be revealed. Each word’s explanation will illustrate significant personal meaning, application and ultimately demonstrate, What It’s Really Like… 

I just got off of a Facetime chat with my brother where during the conversation he made fun of an old baseball t-shirt I was wearing. It is usually customary for him to follow up ribbing observations with a few jabs to get his point across. He followed up his statement saying something to the effect of, “…all these years and you still have your letterman’s jacket on…” Clothing is something that I do not compromise with when it comes to wearing an item and wearing it out. I’m cheap. Most of the garments I own are worn until complete exhaustion. Each year at least quarterly my wife will boldly announce while folding laundry, “if you can see through the underwear, it is time for them to go!” After doing a bit of cleaning and reorganizing this weekend in preparation for our new baby to be born I started thinking: What is the appropriate line/balance for holding on?

Presently, I am experiencing holding on for dear life. My wife is scheduled to give birth to our second son in a matter of days and school will have started by the time you are reading this. In addition to all of the madness of cleaning and prepping for the baby’s arrival at home, I have had to almost completely start over at school (new room, new classes, creating sub plans for my lengthy absence, etc.) Although we have been in our new house for almost a year, I spent the better part of my weekend going through boxes packed away to make room for our newest family member. Between moving our residence and relocating my classroom, I have begun to completely root out all items that are non-essential. There are very few things I hate in life; moving is one of them.

When my wife and I moved in together for the first time she immediately took notice to my archive of items that I had brought along to our new home. She particularly focused on the massive number of t-shirts and several boxes of books and notebooks I had kept from high school and college. What began as a mockery soon turned into scorn with no suitable place to store the boxes as there had been in my parents’ basement. The harmless boxes and stacks of t-shirts turned into a source of conflict and begrudgingly I started to throw out some of my reserve. Each of the four times we have moved over the past four years a little bit of accumulation has been eliminated bit by bit.

Let’s get this straight: I am not a hoarder. I do not know why I act as if I live in the Depression Era and that I must squeeze every ounce of use out of an item before discarding it. I have tried to think back to why I might have developed this habit. It may have started as a young boy the first moment I saw my dad’s basement hardware shelf. He had carefully and meticulously organized all of his loose nuts, bolts, washers, nails and screws into glass Gerber baby food jars. After my brother and I finished the food from the jars they were cleaned and recycled by my father for hardware organization. I bet you cannot guess who currently also uses that same organizing system in his garage. I blame you, Dad.

I can make the same arguments for several items like my school notebooks and t-shirt collection. Justification, in my mind, can be made to items that I continue to hold on to due to their effective and overall resourcefulness. For example, the padded seat tops to broken barstools are now a booster seat at our dining room table for my son. Many could argue that I show the classic signs of initially becoming a full-blown hoarder and am well on my way into starring in an episode of Hoarders or My Strange Addiction. You need not worry about that happening because I cannot stand clutter. I am thoroughly convinced that most items have multiple uses and you may never know when you might need an item down the line.

My cell phone is an iPhone 4S. Many people have asked me why I don’t upgrade. Much like some of my see-through, holy underwear I choose not to upgrade because it still works. Currently on my phone I have 1,767 pictures, 23 videos and approximately 100 apps. It is common for there to be under 20MB of space left on my phone, forcing me into a huge dilemma of what to keep and what to delete. I certainly do not regularly use the 100+ apps that I have downloaded.  Usually, they are the first to get cleaned out. However, I find myself running into the same problem that I have with household items. Just because there is a chance I may use it someday down the road makes me feel inclined to keep it.

Out of the near 1,800 pictures on my phone most of them are of my son. I am preparing myself for another major phone cleaning to guarantee adequate memory space prior to my second son being born. I have several backups of the pictures on computers and external drives. For some reason, I can’t get myself to completely wipe away all of the pictures and start fresh.

Why do I hold on to something that I know I already have stored? Applying this question is not only applicable to phone memory but human memory as well. What items do we choose to hold on to and what are we able to retain? Just like the items in my house and the pictures on my phone I fear of losing what is important or could potentially be used in an alternative capacity later on.

Hanging on to things can be both positive and negative. Hanging on to a picture or a pleasant memory might be good. Hanging on to a grudge might not be so good. What causes us to continue hanging on? Survival, necessity, nostalgia, force of habit?  Everyone will have a different answer. Take it from a guy who white knuckles a few things in his own life – don’t be afraid to audit your own inventory every once in a while.

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Husband. Father. Brother. Teacher. Coach. Sports fan. Weather geek. Backyard vacationer.

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