I know it is good to declutter. To have a clear out.
To void yourself of unwanted and unnecessary possessions. To push for the gush after an age of material constipation.
You feel lighter afterwards. Lithe. Virile even.
Life laundry can be a force for good.
But it can be a bad thing too. A process to be regretted at leisure.
When I moved out of the family home some years ago and into a bijou little flat in Warwick (it was a cupboard but it was my cupboard) I found that, by necessity, I had to shed some of my load. I had amassed enough goods and chattels to sink the Titanic without the aid of an iceberg.
I had to be harsh. The contents of Chatsworth House into a dumb waiter will not go.
I didn't think about it too much. That way the process wasn't as painful as it could have been. I did what I had to do. I pruned harshly. I cut things off without mercy. Disinherited myself of 50% of what was rightfully mine.
And it was fine.
I felt lighter, more lithe, more virile, etc, etc. Yes, I could breathe the free air once again. Life laundry was good.
But since then, over the intervening years, I have regularly come to regret my cold-hearted nonchalence. There are occasions when it makes me physically wince.
I will have a yen to grab a book that I'm sure I own. I will remember buying it. I will go to our many bookcases and search frutlessly. It is not there. I sold it to a secondhand book seller when I was offloading. It is now either out of print or costs a small fortune to buy back.
I will recall a childhood possession of great sentimental value. It is gone. I kept some but not all. Why do the ones still in my possession not mean as much to me as the ones that I threw away?
Worse still though is the ephemera.
I am currently converting a load of old recordings to digital format. Scripts I wrote and acted out with my sisters and friends. Stupid, adolescent stuff. Hopelessly puerile.
As fun and as great as it is to have these I found myself wishing that I'd just recorded day-to-day stuff. Conversations with my grandparents, etc. People whose voices are long lost to me due to Life's own life laundry.
And then I recalled that I did. I had a tape recorder with a built-in microphone and used to use up the spare bits of cassette at the end of making a mix-tape by just recording haphazard stuff via the microphone. There'd be a wealth of undocumented treasures there. Stuff I would no doubt not even remember.
But, of course, when I was lightening my load I threw out all my old mix-tapes. I had the records and could make them again if necessary. Why bother to keep hundreds of C90s? In my haste to get rid of them I didn't even stop to think about all those hidden ad hoc extras.
All gone now. No doubt amusing the tramps at the landfill.
Curse you, life laundry! If there was one thing I could get rid off now it would be you!