Clutter Sentimental and Aspirational

Those in the de-cluttering business talk about different classes of clutter. Aspirational clutter is that which you acquire to make yourself look better to either others or yourself. I tend to think of it as including unbuilt kits unrelated to the current project, books long unread or never read and perhaps magazines containing information you might need some day.

Sentimental clutter is that which you have an emotional attachment although it may be to the memories the object invokes rather than the object itself.

For me, a prime example of that combines some of both is old model railroad magazines. All have been read, sometimes many times but how much information do they contain that I will really ever use. Old modeling techniques are mostly obsolete but prototype drawings, for example, might be useful. But if I actually go to build something, I can obtain a reprint from either the publisher or the NMRA library. Intellectually, I cannot really justify keeping a couple of cubic yards of paper on the chance I might need a couple of pages out of the lot. Yet I still have them.

Or did. In a fit of ruthlessness or simple clarity, I have managed to bin most of the old magazines. My Toronto maximum sized recycling bin was not sufficient so I have lesser bins staged up for the pickup after next but the job is done.

Here is what is left with includes a few volumes kept for specific reasons but mostly special issues:magazinesredux

Featured on top is a BRMNA publication on Cuban sugar railroads I had forgotten I ever had. Thus highlighting another hazard of too much of something. I guess that might count as abundance clutter.

Here is the 2×4 foot rolling pallet the magazine collection occupied that is now off to make Christmas decoration storage a bit more convenient. The space it is in is the right hand end of the space for Comstock Road. The remaining two! pallets of non-hobby stuff will handily fit under the layout, one per support section. I am at last at the point where I can get back to layout itself.surpluspallet

5 thoughts on “Clutter Sentimental and Aspirational”

  1. I never realized there were terms to distinguish between the kinds of clutter but reading the definitions I can see my former collections in either of these groups. As we prepared for our move last summer I completed and equally ruthless paring down of my model railway books and magazines, models, and even tools and supplies.

    At times it wasn’t easy but what remains feels focussed and the exercise reminded me of the role that, what remains, plays. If that makes any sense.

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  2. It certainly makes sense to me. While I find it difficult to admit to myself that, no, I am never going to build/read/do that thing completing the exercise makes me feel free of that bit of psychological weight.

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  3. I’ve just done this with 40 years of Model Railroader and NG Gazette issues. I told myself I was holding them for sentimental reasons but really they filled boxes that had been moved several times over the years, taking needed space with a couple hundred articles of interest buried in the lot. I went through them and tore out any article of interest that works best in paper form (I have the CD of the Gazettes so many things aside from plans and a few series articles had no reason to be kept in paper form). I went from three boxes of Gazettes and a few hundred pounds of coated paper to half a box of articles that will be sorted into categories. The MR got the same treatment and now consume less than half a box, sorted into 5 categories: brass, plans, layouts, general modeling and track laying. I’m trying to figure a way to bind these into rough books. I suspect another culling through could narrow it more. In the end it felt really good to have it done and now I can more easily find things that actually matter to me.

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    1. I confess that my limited collection of Gazettes has not yet been culled but it is only one box so not as big a deal. Or so I keep telling myself. 🙂

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      1. So true. Space was an issue with three full boxes of Gazettes but surprisingly the weight was the worst part. Lifting boxes to get at other boxes more than a few times quickly had me eventually just ignoring them altogether! The thought of loading down bookshelves was a concern, also. And the weight of the stacked boxes was enough that crushing was happening to the bottom box. Coated paper quickly adds up. Going from 6 linear feet to maybe 18″, when all is done, will be worth it.

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