Cleaning our life's garage

By Darrel Hammon

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, April 11 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Our lives are really our garage, filled with non-essential things.

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One chilly, snow-spitting morning not long ago, I went on a morning walk. While I walked, I noticed a disturbing pattern, at least for me. Numerous cars, caked with ice and sleet, sat forlornly in front of closed garage doors.

Now, I have noticed this phenomenon before, but that cold, snowy morning, a monster question emerged: “Why are those cars sitting outside in the driveway instead of inside a cozy, sometimes warm garage?” The majority of the cars weren’t clunkers. They were Suburbans, Chrysler Town and Country vans, Ford Explorers, lots of Toyota Camrys, a few Hondas, Silverado and Ford pickups, a Cadillac Escalade, a Volvo station wagon, an Audi, and other assortments of vehicles. And, yes, a few clunkers took up space in the driveways and in front of houses.

Cars and trucks are not cheap. Just recently, my wife and I were hunting for a new vehicle, and we priced lots of cars. I suspect in each driveway and along the road in front of the homes, there were $30,000 to $60,000 worth of cars and trucks, lolling around gathering snow and ice. To me, that amount is a bunch of money.

Then, just after that realization burst through my brain, I noticed another driveway leading to an open garage. Slowing my pace and peering surreptitiously into the garage, I noticed a few things: boxes stacked three or four deep, old boards and a decrepit-looking metal shelf with additional smaller boxes stacked haphazardly on the shelves. Also, scattered helter-skelter on the floor were all sorts of toys, trikes, a bicycle or two and a cadre of other things.

I thought to myself: “How much does all that stuff (i.e. 'junk') add up to in dollars? After a quick and dirty calculation, I thought perhaps less than $5,000 — maybe only a few hundred bucks — may be stuffed inside the garage. So, $30,000-$60,000 outside the garage and less than $5,000 inside the garage. The expensive, valuable stuff on the outside, the not-so-expensive on the inside.

This is analogous to ourselves. Our lives are really our life’s garage, filled with non-essential things. Often, we keep old, not-so-valuable stuff inside our life’s garage while simultaneously disallowing ourselves to bring in the most important or most worthwhile things into our lives. So what can we do to clear out the “junk” — or or the things we haven’t used or thought about for years — from our life’s garage?

1. Analyze what’s actually in life’s garage.

For some of us, keeping the horrific and long-hoarded burdens seems like the thing to do. For instance, in our regular garage, those old shirts and pants we wore back in the '90s are now passé. They no longer belong in a box in the garage; they need to be tossed. I suspect if we truly analyzed everything in our life’s garage, we would quickly discover that we don’t really need or want most of the items. They do not have value. Because we didn’t know what to do with the stuff, we just tossed it in a box and carried it to the piles already there. Instead of taking care of the issues right then and there, we placed them — yes, even hid them — in a box and placed them in the piles, hoping we would forget about them. Unfortunately, that stuff never goes away unless we take care of it.

2. Determine what should be kept or thrown out.

In our life’s garage, we sometimes carry certain burdens and I-wish-I-could-forget-that-thing items and allow them to haunt us. Yet, we erroneously believe we need to keep them close when we really don’t. With a firm determination to sort through the good and the bad, we must be willing to toss out that which has no use or value to us.

My daughter adheres pretty religiously to an adage that states: “If I don’t use it in a year, I don’t need it.” She then gives it away, sells it or tosses it out.

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