It’s Complicated

I hate clutter, which means that getting rid of things is rarely a problem for me.  I routinely go through my possessions, ruthlessly culling the items that are no longer useful or desirable.  No matter how many times a charity calls for donations, I can always produce at least one big bag of used clothes, household items or other items.  And that’s not counting the carload of stuff we donate each year to the rummage sale at my mother’s church, or the stuff we give to my daughter to take to the local resale shop.

Even my most precious possessions–my books, my Christmas ornaments and my photographs–aren’t immune to my tendency to downsize and minimize.  I rid my bookshelves of books that no longer interest me, and I gave each of my kids a couple dozen of my Christmas ornaments when they moved out and started decorating their own trees.  And when my photo boxes get too full, I go through them and toss out the occasional photo or two.  (Especially when I have no idea who is in the picture.)  I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a “saver.”

fullsizeoutput_3ebeWhich makes it all the harder to explain why I have several poinsettia plants on the window seat in my family room that are well past their prime.  The newest addition is two years old, and none of them sport the pretty red leaves anymore.  They are now green and spindly, require frequent watering and drop dead leaves all over the place.  But I can’t make myself throw them out.  I’ve tried, but I can never get past the idea that they are still alive, and I would be killing them for no reason other than I find them inconvenient.  And so they stay, taking up space and cluttering up my window seat.

I don’t have a rational explanation about my inability to get rid of unwanted plants when I can so easily give away just about anything else that’s in my house.  It’s completely out of character, and I doubt that anyone who knows me would believe that I have a window seat full of straggly poinsettias left over from Christmases of several years ago.  And yet I do.

And I don’t think I’m all that unusual.  Yes, hanging onto old poinsettias may be unusual, but doing things that seem out of character is actually rather common.  I believe most people have odd quirks and have done things that would surprise their friends and family.   I also believe that most people hold certain beliefs which seem at odds with their usual viewpoints.  Because the truth is that most people are much more complicated than they seem.

Of course we like to slot other people into categories that make they easy to identify, but those categories are rarely completely accurate.  It’s not uncommon for a liberal to hold a conservative view on a particular subject, or for a city dweller to have a passion for country music.  Animal shelter volunteers can own purebred dogs, and the grown son of a dedicated gardener may prefer his vegetables canned.  It’s all okay.  Because real people are complicated, and they are allowed to harbor all sorts of contradictions.  It’s just part of what makes us human.

And the reason I’m hoping no one gives me another poinsettia for Christmas this year.

51 thoughts on “It’s Complicated

  1. Oh, I love this post! I keep trying to get rid of “stuff”, but I can’t stand it when I have to get rid of a plant. I once cut down a “dead” dragon tree. But I didn’t’ throw it out.Six months later, it suddenly sent up a shoot. Now it’s three feet tall with three thriving trunks. Good for you!

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  2. I could probably toss a spindly dying plant, but I have trouble with pictures. Even the ones that were from my parent’s collection… taken in places I don’t know… of people who are strangers to me. Somehow it just seems so disloyal. I promise I will not send you a poinsettia for Christmas, if you don’t send me any pictures. 😄

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a deal! And honestly, you don’t want to know how many photo albums I have, and how many photo boxes I have of the picture that don’t fit into the albums. But I look at them as my history, since I don’t do journals. I keep track of the past through my photos.

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  3. Oh don’t worry, Ann – Christmas is only 9 months away and no doubt someone will be giving you another beautiful Poinsettia plant for your windowsill collection 😉 I feel with you, afterall the old plants might just come back to life again. But, to part with books – absolutely not! Neither with Christmas decorations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure I’ll be getting another one, and will eventually have to start adding some space to store them all!
      As for my books, my theory is, “If it is on my shelves, then I love it!” I do find after a few years that my enthusiasm for a book may wane, and then I will donate it to a used book shop so someone else can love it. But I have a huge collection of books, and will never part with my favorites. Same thing with my Christmas ornaments. Each is a special treasure…..

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  4. Haha! What a wonderful post. I love the ending! But you make a valid point, we each of us behave in odd ways on occasion that totally go against our usual patterns. I think that’s what makes us so unique and surprising 😀

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    • It does! And I think it’s such a mistake when we get to know a few things about a person, and then assume we know everything about them. Because we really have no idea! Welcome back to the blogging world, Kim!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can’t get rid of old plants either (precisely because while they’re still alive there’s still hope) or photos for that matter but I’m pretty ruthless with most other things. I used to me more sentimental about my stuff when I was younger but no more. Decluttering is somehow therapeutic. Great post Ann.

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    • Thanks, Miriam! Decluttering is therapeutic to me as well. And I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who can’t throw out living plants. It just feels wrong to me.
      As for the photos, the only ones I can get rid of are those that don’t have any people I knew or cared about in them. Like the blurry photo of a bear in a zoo I took twenty years ago. Still, it took me twenty years to even get rid of that one!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Our house groans under the weight of stuff. Periodically, I am forced to shift the stuff around, least it weigh down one side of the house versus the other, causing the house to list.

    But enough of stuff….your paragraph on that little spot of ying in everyone’s yang is brilliant. We need to keep reminding ourselves of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My sister is like you…she still has many of the toys she had as a child! Personally, too much stuff just makes me twitchy.
      And yes, I truly believe that none of us is as simple as we seem, and that’s something I need to remember when I’m tempted to label someone based on what I happen to know about them. We all have our quirks, and it’s what makes us unique and interesting!

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  7. I think humans are in some degree contradictory creatures, Ann, quite often hypocritical too — there’s usually some sort of (psychobabble alert) cognitive dissonance going on within us, isn’t there? We regard ourselves as rationally driven, but so much motivates and predisposes us beneath the level of the intellect. It’s complicated.

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    • I agree. We may be basically rational beings, but a lot of our behavior is motivated by our emotions, and sometimes we don’t even understand what triggers them ourselves. I think it’s important to remember that when we’re busily trying to categorize other people, because honestly, no one I know doesn’t have some contradictions in their beliefs and actions. I admit I like things “neat and tidy,” but that’s just not human nature!

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  8. Everybody has their thing that may not make sense to others. I cannot throw out a living plant, as I mentioned in some of my posts. I give them a second chance and I have many regrets about that, as our warm climate tends to rejuvenate my discarded plants. Anyway, put the poinsettias out for the summer with some new soil and fertilizer, and they may keep growing. Or set them free and let nature take its course.

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    • You mean I can put them outside, in pots, or plant them in the ground? I live in St. Louis, where we have a lot of hard freezes in the winter. If I put them in the ground, will they survive that? Or should I pot them, and then bring them back in during the Fall, in the hopes they turn red by Christmas? Sorry for all the questions, but I know you have lots more gardening knowledge than I do!

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    • I agree! I hate our current “black and white” approach to things, where we think “if someone believes A, then they must also believe B,C, and so on…” Because I have found that when I take the trouble to really get to know someone, I am always surprised by some of the contradictions I find. And even more so by the reasons for them!

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  9. I like the way you juxtaposed house clutter and the nature of complicated people I believe there is a desire in all of us to bring order in a world of chaos. The reason why we are complicated lies at least in part in us having a mind filled with much unwanted clutter,i.e. biases, prejudices, racist opinions etc. The problem is that while there is a much greater need to clean up the mess it is far more difficult to do than bringing order to a chaotic closet. Thank you for your insightful and stimulating post, Ann!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. “Because real people are complicated.” That’s a great line, layered in its simplicity, and very true.
    Our home has much too much stuff. Some of us have a difficult time parting with things but I won’t mention names..:)
    Sentimentality is difficult to overcome sometimes…:)
    I love the way you continue to clean out. Your children will thank you one day.😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit, my cleaning isn’t really a virtue. I just can’t stand clutter, and honestly feel a certain satisfaction when everything is clean and uncluttered. Sadly, my husband is a “saver” but I am slowly winning him over….although separate closets are a must for us! And I do understand how people can get attached to things, and feel that way myself about a few prized possessions.
      Thanks for the compliment on the line. I get so tired of how quick we are to label people and categorize everyone these days. When we get to know someone, we almost always find out that no one is as simple as they seem. Personally, I think that is a good thing!

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  11. Ann, it is our contradictions that make us interesting. I related to this reflection. It is when I catch myself in a contradiction that I have an opportunity to learn more about my own thinking and what I value. Thanks for sharing your real self.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so welcome! And I completely agree that it is our contradictions that make us interesting. We like to think of people as almost two-dimensional, but that’s simply not true. Thanks for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s the same for me. Normally poinsettias simply give up a couple of weeks after Christmas and then I don’thave the slightest problem getting rid of it. but not this time! No, this little beauty is still adoring my desk and I simply can’t chuck it out! But I believe that’s rather a good thing 😄
    I regretted giving away some of my books though and am now more cautious with them and not give into each de-clutter impulse too easily 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know why poinsettias like living at my house so much, but clearly they do. As for books, I’ve worked out a system to make sure I don’t get rid of one that I later regret donating. When I’m clearing some space on my shelves, I choose the books I haven’t read in a long time. Then I open each one and read a few pages to see if it still speaks to me the way it did when I decided to keep the book in the first place. If it doesn’t, I put it in my “donate” pile, where it sits for a couple of weeks. Then I look at it again, make sure I’m still okay with the decision to get rid of it, and only then actually give it away. Every now and then, I find myself returning a book to my shelf.
      Thanks for the comment!

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