What do a beat up Star Wars arcade cabinet, a toy telephone that utters horror phrases, and an old iPad case have in common? They are three of the twenty things I’ve parted with so far in 2017. If I get rid of five things a day every day this year, 5 x 365 = 1,825. Minus twenty, that leaves 1,805 to go.
Bill Clinton once famously said “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” and along those same lines, when you say you’re going to throw away 1,825 “things,” at some point you have to define what a thing is, even if it’s only to yourself. I’ve defined a thing as, well, a “thing.” A box of 100 paperclips is not 100 things. It’s one thing. If I were to throw a cake, I wouldn’t count the eggs, flour, and milk separately. This would never be a problem because I would never throw away an entire cake. Regardless, ask me again in November and I might be counting individual dried-up ink pens.
But even if I were to count those ink pens separately, I’d run out of them pretty quickly. I might be able to scrounge up a dozen dead pens, which would barely buy me two days. And technically, I’d be cleaning up my desk of dead pens. If you’re looking for 1,825 things to get rid of, they can’t all be Star Wars arcade cabinets.
Last night, I almost got ahead of myself and got rid of seven things instead of five. You gotta pace yourself, I thought as I left a spiral notebook and a pencil sharpener sitting on the dinner table overnight. First thing this morning I tossed them into the donate tub. Two things down, three more to go.
So far, the number of things I’ve tossed into the trash and the number of things I’ve donated are roughly equal. I don’t know if that ratio will remain the same throughout the year. I’m not really tracking it. I’m taking pictures of some of the more memorable items, like the Star Wars cabinet, but not things like dried-up pens.
Although most people say it takes twenty-one days to build a habit, after only five days I’ve found myself looking for things to get rid of in every room I enter. If I really do keep up this pace, I’ll run out of the easy things early on and may have to face more difficult choices later in the year.