the irony of hoarding

a couple of weeks ago, my dear friend, ambroise and i had an interesting conversation about hoarders. it started because he is moving from nice back to paris and was packing. he mentioned that he only needed two or three suitcases. to that, i responded “ah, it seems like you have a healthy relationship with death.”

and then we started to develop a theory. here’s where i think we ended up (obvious oversimplification):

there are two types of people in the world. people who have poor relationships with death tend to hoard. people who have healthy relationships with death tend to have weak ties to their possessions.

in our experiences, hoarders tend to be unable to understand their mortality. they hold on to objects with the hope of being anchored. keeping books, photos, newspapers, etc. seems to be about freezing a moment in time.

and yet, time can never stop. from one minute to next we change, grow, become different. most things i keep have a practical purpose. once they lose that, they can be tossed. because, someday sooner than i think, i’ll die and have to toss them anyway. why wait?

the most interesting part of our convo was this. there is a stark irony for people who have strong ties to physical or memory-laden objects. the irony is that those people are constantly faced with the impermanence of their lives. because they are able to look back at photos of themselves or remember the time they read that book, they are constantly facing the fact that those objects are from the past. and things have changed since then.

interesting, no?