Cutting the cord

May 5th, 2008

My husband came back crestfallen.

I had saved the flyer for weeks in hopes that the planets would somehow align between opportunity and initiative. It was Free E-Waste Recycling day in our town, and they would take everything. They would take everything electronic taking up space in closets, occupying that place in our heads called “Maybe Someday.” As in maybe someday we’ll find a use for this again. It is the nature of this stuff that it cannot be useful, at least not in the same way, again. It is by design that it is obsolete and incompatible. It is the global economic model.

They took the massively elegant G4 processing tower which was the size of a small child.

They took my old laptop which was really OK except it wouldn’t power the new programs.

They took our first-generation digital camera which always amazed people when we said what we’d paid for it.

They took a colossal monitor, the kind that required its own furniture and corner of the room.

They took keyboards made sticky with dust and crumbs and a wee splash of Pinot Grigio on a late night or two.

They took a tangle of mysterious cords and mateless remotes.

They took everything.

And for a guy who has staked it all on technological prowess, they took a slice of his religion.

“You should have seen the pile of TVs and video consoles and cameras and plasma screens,” he muttered post-traumatically when he came back. “We probably paid $15,000 for the stuff we gave.”

It goes back to the business of worth, and how it isn’t ever what we think it is. There is that saying we all repeat and even believe – you get what you pay for – but it’s not entirely true, is it? In the end, and always sooner than you expect, you give what you pay for. And that shift in view can really change how you live, what you work for, and what you cherish.

The closets are clearer today. I’m going out to pull weeds.


  1. It is amazing how the stuff piles up. And the money we pay for it…

    Comment by Kristin H. — May 5, 2008 @ 5:57 pm

  2. I need to do this. We have so much stuff in closet and sort of just laying around. All of it is “maybe someday” stuff. I keep saying I’ll have a garage sale, but really? Probably not. What I should do is round it all up and give it to the Airman’s Attic.

    And doesn’t your house feel different, better, without some of the junk clogging its arteries?

    Comment by Momma Phoenix — May 5, 2008 @ 10:35 pm

  3. Reminds me of the Linda Pastan poem called “What We Want” – especially lines 3-7. Here it is:

    What we want
    is never simple.
    We move among the things
    we thought we wanted:
    a face, a room, an open book
    and these things bear our names –
    now they want us.
    But what we want appears
    in dreams, wearing disguises.
    We fall past,
    holding out our arms
    and in the morning
    our arms ache.
    We don’t remember the dream,
    but the dream remembers us.
    It is there all day
    as an animal is there
    under the table,
    as the stars are there
    even in full sun.

    xo Jena

    Comment by Jena Strong — May 6, 2008 @ 12:41 am

  4. I love the poem Jena! And congratulations Karen on dejunking. I am on a huge dejunk plan. I’m going to have a yard sale on the 14th June so the whole house needs to have been gone through by then and if I have the nerve .. anything that does not sell will be given away. How much does it cost us this junk in negative energy.. bad thoughts, regret, guilt and then the having to clean it and store it?!
    well done, you are in inspiration I shall promptly start my first box, thank you.

    Comment by Honey — May 6, 2008 @ 8:49 am

  5. It’s almost “traumatic” and, if I may say, the most difficult to part with. Well, next to years and years and yeeears of accumulated office documents and receipts that “might still be needed someday.” Somehow, there is a sense of relief when letting go of things is finally managed. For me, it is akin to saying “bye-bye” to the cord tangled confusion of the years past.

    And yes, I totally agree that you “give what you pay for” although,I have never consciously thought about it that way till now.

    Which means… this post….your thoughts…..your experience have made one woman’s life, my life, a pretty little different today.

    Thank you.

    Comment by Midsummerprism — May 8, 2008 @ 6:00 am

  6. And I find that doing the small decluttering tasks can feel great too. Just clearing off the extra papers from my desk or from our homeschooling table or from the top of the washing machine. Small spaces that have so much energy and power – that get cloudy and clogged by so few objects. It’s great to feel the openness again when a few things are doing away with.

    Reduce, reuse, recycle! That’s one of our mottos around here. Plus, we need to just buy less stuff and make do with what we’ve got…

    Comment by GailNHB — May 8, 2008 @ 11:13 am

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