March 3rd, 2012
08:25 AM ET

Letters to the President #1139: 'Cleaning out'

Reporter's Note: It is fully possible that the president is tired of me writing to him every day. But he hasn’t said anything yet, so I’m not blinking until he does.

Dear Mr. President,

We’ve been having some work done at our house lately, which makes things a tad chaotic. Some painting, routine repairs, a little remodeling. We’ve lived there over ten years so it is due. This morning (possibly even as you read this) we’ll also be giving or throwing a lot of things away. Clothing, furniture, books, appliances. You name it, if we think it will be useful to anyone, we’ll take it to a donation center, and if not…we’ll chuck it.

We have been involved in that process for months now, whittling away at the collected flotsam and jetsam from 25 years of marriage. There is a lot of it. It seems as if things have quietly been collecting around us, like wolves in the darkness, while we blissfully went on with life. Tennis rackets, mirrors, toaster ovens, board games, clocks, party decorations, ice chests, lamps, kitchen canisters, basketballs, ice skates, car top carriers, fondue pots, vases, luggage, garden hoses, paint brushes, throw rugs, shoe racks, bird cages (did we have a bird?), and on and on and on it goes.

Seems like only yesterday we were moving out of an apartment in New Orleans into our first house in Denver and staring slack jawed at all that space. What on earth would we do with it? We had so few possessions that the dining and living rooms were as barren as the moon. I practiced putting there.

But time passed. The very surfeit of free space encouraged a woeful lack of discipline. We bought things, found things, made things, were given things, and pretty soon the things had us in their grip. We awoke one day to find that we no longer owned them as much as they owned us; demanding constant cleaning, moving, dusting, fixing, and refixing. No more. As difficult as it is, within a relatively short time we hope that our worldly store of things will be considerably diminished, and that our lives will be enhanced by the change.

And when that is done, I think we’ll turn to some of the ideas we’ve collected over the years; surely some of them have outlived their usefulness as well. Ha!

If you have time to come over and help, we’d sure appreciate it. Wear some old jeans.