I love the Pixar film The Incredibles. I’ve probably seen it 10 or more times and it’s one of only a handful of DVDs that I still own. In the film, Syndrome, the villain, makes masterful inventions that have the ability to give everyone super powers. He plots to use these inventions to defeat the “Supers” who are out to save the world (insert maniacal laugh here). He famously says “when everyone is Super, no one will be.”
What does this have to do with organization? EVERYTHING! Because if we look around us, and everything we own feels special, then truly, nothing is.
So often we have items in our homes that we call treasures. China, silver, keepsakes from relatives long gone, photos, rare books, and more. Should you get rid of all of these items? Of course not! But I do believe you should assess how many of these “treasures” you keep and if you’re honoring them in your home. If the majority of these items are boxed up in your attic and never see the light of day, I question how much you really treasure them. If everything feels like a treasure, perhaps nothing is. Cull this down to the true treasures, and use and honor them.
Oh, the precious preschool years where every single day your child brings home a masterpiece. Those are indeed special times and they are fleeting. However, if you keep every scribble scrabble and finger painting work of art, you will quickly be overrun and it will start to invade all corners of your home. I know, I know…those precious little hands made it! However, if every piece of art seems like a special piece, then perhaps nothing really stands out. Keep a few representative pieces from each major milestone (the first time a person really looks like a person, or the first time they attempted to write their name). Give the others a little kiss and toss them in the recycling.
I know I run the risk of insulting every intellectual in town, but yes, even a book collection can get out of hand. Books have a way of representing who we are (or who we want people to think we are). We buy them and display them like art in our homes, filling our shelves and showing the world all of the knowledge we’ve absorbed. I’m not at all suggesting you rid your home of books. But think of books as things that come into your life and go back into the world to be read and enjoyed by others. Keep the precious few that you truly treasure, would willingly read again or share with a guest, or those that you reference frequently. Take the rest to your favorite used bookstore or to the local library. Donate children’s books to Book Harvest. Think of it as the circle of life and knowledge and move those along that were fun visitors but have overstayed their welcome.
Another favorite quote from The Incredibles is this, from Bob, AKA Mr. Incredible:
No matter how many times you save the world, it always manages to get back in jeopardy again. Sometimes I just want it to stay saved! You know, for a little bit? I feel like the maid; I just cleaned up this mess! Can we keep it clean for… for ten minutes!
Just like saving the world, organization has to be ongoing. Sort through those treasures regularly to assess how special they still are to you. Every so often, I encourage you to put on your super cape and be more selective about the items you consider to be “special,” and perhaps the world will stay saved for a little bit longer.