This week I had became aware of another feature of my behavior that is unusual. I keep taking books out of the library that I don't get around to reading because I am already reading other books that I have acquired, often at bargain prices or off the library's "free" shelf.
Two weeks ago while reading Senator Dodd's Letters from Nuremberg I visited the library and withdrew eight more books on this subject. These books remained stacked on the floor of my office the past seven days, mostly untouched because I had already been reading several other books on other recent topics I'd been reading about lately.
I've always been a fairly voracious reader, but why do I read? Is there some kind of mental hoarding taking place? Am I hoarding vicarious experiences? Am I hoarding mental closets of useless knowledge in the same way junk collectors stuff their closets with plastic bags, their garages with debris?
Television shows about hoarding have produced a greater awareness of how pervasive the problem is. Is it possible "mild" hoarders deceive and comfort themselves because they're situations are nothing like the extreme cases we see or read about? When I read Eddy Gilmore's The Emancipation of a Buried Man two years ago I was shocked at the conditions he grew up in. His mother's hoarding produced circumstances that were so far out that I did not see certain patterns within myself.
So my new thought was this: hoarding doesn't necessarily pertain to clutter and physical junk. People can get buried in mental junk as well. We can become mental hoarders, as Nolan Overton writes on his Success Freaks blog.
As I broadened my definition of hoarding to include intangibles, I began to wonder if some people are hoarders of power, just as there are men who hoard sexual conquests.
In the past, as I've struggled with the problem of being organized, I never connected it to this other feature of the problem: hoarding. The why of our hoarding can vary, though. In this ADAA article, several reasons for hoarding are noted.
1. "People hoard because they believe that an item will be useful or valuable in the future." Definitely me.
2. "Or they feel it has sentimental value, is unique and irreplaceable, or too big a bargain to throw away."
3. "They may also consider an item a reminder that will jog their memory, thinking that without it they won’t remember an important person or event."
4. "Or because they can’t decide where something belongs, it’s better just to keep it." This one is me, too. Grrr.
Tonight we change our clocks to Daylight Savings Time. Don't forget. As we "Spring Forward" maybe it's a good time to do a more thorough "spring cleaning" than you've done in the past. I've made these kinds of internal resolves before, so it's a bit like deja vu. Nevertheless, it's my hope to go further this time, to cut the cord.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Let's begin.