Why Didn’t I Think of That?

pexels-photo-355952So I went to a writer’s workshop last night to hear Ruth Spiro’s journey–and oh my goodness, what an interesting story AND what fascinating board books she’s written for babies!–and she mentioned the Maker Movement.

Yeah, there’s a movement afoot for people who make things. They have Maker Faires and everything. And it’s not just for inventors. Nope, these faires are for artisans and tinkerers, designers and engineers. Pretty much if you make something, you’re a maker.

Call me crazy, but haven’t we always had makers? You know, people who come up with ideas and then make those ideas happen? We used to call them entrepreneurs or inventors. How is this a new trend? With their own magazine (cleverly titled, MAKE)?

Not a day goes by that I don’t make something, even if it’s just a sandwich. I mean, making is part of the human condition. We make our beds, we make plans, we make cookies, we make babies. And I’ve been pretty darn innovative in all of those activities at one time or another. I call it “making do” but if I’d thought to call it a movement, I might be rich by now.

And then I read in my morning paper about a new book on de-cluttering. It’s calledΒ The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, and it’s by Margareta Magnusson. It’s about the kind of cleaning one does late in life (or after a family member dies).

Basically, it’s the kind of cleaning I’ve been doing for the last year and a half. Except I just call it “cleaning up Mom and Dad’s stuff now that they’re gone.” I guess the bottom line here is that one should clean up one’s stuff before dying and save our kids the trouble later.

The problem with that is we’re still using our stuff. Or we do downsize and we try to get our kids to take the stuff we’re not using, like the silver or the china, but they either a. don’t have room for it because they prefer to live in super-expensive, urban, tiny spaces or b. they just don’t want it.

Anyway, that’s not really the point here. The point is, this slim book is apparently so popular it’s about to be published in America. And it’s a book about taking the time to basically throw away most of one’s stuff before one dies so one’s kids don’t have to do it.

Excuse me, but that’s been a time-honored and expected child’s and/or spouse’s job since…well, I guarantee that Cain and Abel argued about what to do with all their daddy’s loincloths. How is that a book now?

First the Maker Movement and now a book about the common sense practice of throwing away stuff. I don’t know whether I’m more annoyed about the craziness of it all–or that I didn’t think of it first.


14 thoughts on “Why Didn’t I Think of That?

  1. I really love this post, Cathy. Thank you so much for writing it. I guess it goes back to the saying that Old is Always New Again (or something like that — and I only wish it applied to bodies!).

    I’ve been in the process of disposing of my parents and grandparents stuff that they just couldn’t part with for the past few years now, so I know exactly what you’re going through. It’s time consuming and emotionally taxing, and in my case, all the moving and lifting has caused a physical injury that’s been quite difficult these last few months. But the whole process has made me determined to get a handle on all MY stuff so my kids don’t have to endure the same thing. Thinning out my book collection has been the hardest. Though I would like to check out that new MAKERS book. The SWEDISH DEATH one — not so much. πŸ˜‰

    • Yep, I admit that I’ve been cleaning out stuff, too. But then I thought, “Hey! Why should I spend all MY time when I have THREE kids???” Kind of like that old saying, “What goes around, comes around.” πŸ™‚

  2. This is such a timely post, Cathy.

    At lunch the other day with my critique group we were discussing this very topic. One guy talked about the set of dishes his mother bought–18 servings so each of her three children would have a set of six, although no one wanted the dishes. I have some things that belonged t my parents, but two cherish–my mom’s cedar chest and my dad’s missal/prayer book.

    It’s not easy to let go of things that have been accumulated over the years. I’ve gone to estate sales and bought items and hoped I would use them as well as the person who passed away. Now, I’m in a situation where I’m trying to get rid of some of my stuff so my grandchildren don’t have to. When I go through things to decide what to toss, I choke up when I remember where I bought it or who gave it to me.

    Okay. I’ve gone on long enough. See how hard it is for me to let go of things, even thoughts and words. πŸ˜‰

    • I’m not much of a keeper, Donna, but even so, there are some things I hold onto for no other reason than that I can’t let ’em go. You reminded me that my mom’s missal is something I kept. I know the pages she read over and over and over because the oils from her fingers made the pages slick and worn. And all through it were holy cards or prayers she’d copied. She was a great one for that and I cherish those words she wrote down. I think it’s okay to keep some things. In fact, I think it’s necessary. β™₯

  3. I feel about “maker” the way I felt about “domestic engineer” the first time I heard it: just a new way of saying the same old thing. As to the downsizing before our kids have to do it, well…that’s a great idea. I wish my parents and in-laws had done that. Because now that the hubster and I are downsizing (yes, still) we’re the ones stuck trying to unload THREE full “service for 12” sets of china, a ton of post-war (occupied) Japanese stuff (not worth much monetarily), boxes of outdated reference books, etc., etc. The kids don’t want this stuff. We don’t have room for it. You’ve heard me cry about all this before. We’ve come pretty far with it, but can still do better. Anyway, I don’t have a problem dumping my own stuff to keep my kids from having to do it. I’ve already made them put dibs on items they want, so when the time comes everyone knows who is getting what, and the rest can go to Goodwill. ‘Cause my kids are doing a fine job of collecting their OWN stuff that THEIR kids will have to sort through. I guess it’s all just part of the process. First world problems, maybe, huh?

    • Yep, I hear you, Lisa. I, too, have the china stacked to the rafters. But I’m fixin’ to move it out. If my kids don’t want it, someone else will. So true, we keep our china, waiting for the right occasion to use it, when there are so many people who are just waiting to eat. 😦

  4. YEESSSSS! I hate the “why didn’t I think of that first” thought!! Or actually….I did think of that and why didn’t I write a great book on it! Ha!
    Anyhoo, another great short fun read on the same topic is “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. Japanese writer, writing for small spaces, but challenging you to remove everything and intentionally put it back, by putting your hands on it, seeing if it brings you joy, then choose it again. If it doesn’t bring you joy, THANK IT and send it away πŸ™‚

    • Yep, I know that book, Melissa. The problem with thanking my stuff is that I get carried away. If I could just say thanks and toss, I’d be fine. But once the thanking starts I go on and on and on and then guilt sets in and…well. Cleaning for me is best done quickly with as little thought as possible! πŸ™‚

  5. So many how to books we could write! Cathy you could do it!! All the new ideas these youngsters are coming up with right. Probably would have to be an e-book, some may have never turned a real page….and what to do with all those wonderfully full book shelves in my home?

  6. As always, your posts make me smile and giggle, but you are so spot on here. I will read or see news about the latest craze and think: really? Who knew it was so simple? Let’s take Fidget Spinners, for example. Your two examples, too. But then I think, it really is all in the marketing. These people had a basic idea. They knew it was universal–lots of people have this idea, and then they wrapped it up in a pretty bow. Maybe you could wrap up something you are doing in a pretty bow and then we will all be saying to you–Really? How simple! But good for you!

    • Will you be saying that, Margo? Or will you be saying, “I CANNOT believe Cathy Hall is making a ton of money on that ridiculous idea!” Hahahahhaaa!

      The trick is thinking up the idea and capitalizing on it. Other than that, I could be rich and famous, too. πŸ™‚

  7. Yes, but if I buy the book on throwing things out, aren’t I adding to my “stuff”?

    Yeah, I am flummoxed by the “maker” trend as well. That song, “Everything Old is New Again” could be rewritten to become, “Everything Old is Given a New Name and is Then Considered New and Innovative.”

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