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Bonzer Words!: Spring Cleaning

...So here I am again this spring, struggling to deal with the flotsam and jetsam of my life....

But Lytrice Adams shies away from having a big clear-out.

Every year at this time the nagging thought sneaks up on me. It's time for spring-cleaning. Time to discard, to donate, to downsize. But every year I seem to go through the same routine, ending up in the same situation, feeling overwhelmed with indecision. What do I keep, what do I throw out? Everything seems to be so valuable just when I'm ready to get rid of it!

My coat closet screams at me when I open it. Why do I allow all those worn-out ancient apparels to hang there, taking up valuable space? I might need them one day. In this country where temperature fluctuations are a daily occurrence, you could wear three different coats in one day! So just in case, let them stay a while longer.

I am less paranoid about my clothes. Since I am not one of those persons who has a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, I buy few practical outfits. But on the other hand, I get addicted to wearing the same ones, and when their life span has expired, I am loath to throw them out. How could I desert them after all the places we've been together, the experiences we've shared? At the risk of appearing shabby and outdated, I grant them a reprieve.

My houseplants are a whole other issue. After abandoning them to the care of well-intentioned young persons during the winter, I come back in the spring to find them listless and droopy. I try to deal with my guilty conscience by pruning and fertilizing, even resorting to crooning at times, but in some cases, the response is so tepid, that it would be kinder to put the poor things out of their misery. But how could I? They've been with me for so long. Some of them were presents from dear friends. They have given me so many seasons of beautiful blooms, so much pleasure. Let them have another chance. So there they sit, waiting for a miracle.

Then there are all those souvenirs and bits of rocks that cover most of the surfaces in my small condo. To the appraising eye, they are simply dust collectors. Get rid of them, I hear my practical voice saying. But my sentimental urges rise up in outrage—you can't do that, they tell me. Look at all those pieces you've picked up from various parts of the world—don't you remember how you admired and treasured them, toting them from one country to another, so you could take them home? All those ornaments have a story to tell. What happens when you silence them forever, you ingrate?

But the biggest challenge of all is the overflowing bookshelves. Stacked to their limit, they cry out for attention. All through the year I make mental notes to do some sorting, donating any saleable items to the semi-annual book sale at our church. But what actually happens? I bring home some more. Spineless and easily influenced by familiar authors and good prices, I cannot say no. Then there is the allure of old books, of time-tested treasures that I've always planned to read when I was younger, and never had the time to do so. I cannot turn away from them. So I buy more books, and come home with the impossible task of finding a spot to put them. Reason tells me that I should get rid of the old university texts—they're the space hoggers. I have tried. Many times. Instead, I find myself sitting on the floor surrounded by those heavy tomes, leafing through one or the other, and being catapulted back into time and my student days. I know they are hopelessly outdated, but I waver in my resolve to throw them out, and calmly replace them to taunt my lack of will power.

So here I am again this spring, struggling to deal with the flotsam and jetsam of my life. Perhaps one day I will be inspired to clear it all out, springtime or not. Growing old, the horizon of my life is becoming blurred and vague. I know I have only this time. I need to let go of stuff. All kinds of stuff. But I'll wait for next year!

Lytrice writes for Bonzer! magazine. Please visit www.bonzer.org.au


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