“You have permission to keep anything that adds value to your life.
And you have permission to keep anything that doesn’t.
But you also have permission to let go.
You have permission to clear the clutter.
You have permission to remove the excess—the clothes you don’t wear, the junk you don’t use, the things you hold on to just in case—and focus on what’s truly important to you: health, relationships, passions.”
– Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists)
When I started to analyze my belongings, I quickly saw that many of them fell into the category of “just in case”. I’ll hold onto a ratty pair of sneakers even though I just bought new ones just in case. I’ll keep a six-foot-long swath of bubble wrap from when I moved just in case. I’ll save an owners’ manual to the VCR I owned in college just in case.
I’m not against utilizing a “just in case” philosophy on occasion, but that type of thinking creates clutter. I’ve rarely put back on the worn-out running shoes after buying a new pair. The bubble wrap and various packing material I kept from my move is so smooshed from being jammed in the closet they are practically unusable. And for why I would keep an old electronics manual . . . maybe just in case I discover a time machine and end up working at Radio Shack.
Which segues to Days Seven and Eight of the Minimalism Game, my attack on the various accoutrements of my old electronic gadgets. I dug deep into the junk drawer and selected fourteen cords, plugs, chargers, and even one remote control I will never use again. They’re items I either own duplicates of or else pair up with electronics that have become obsolete. Unlike my last post where my books, CDs, and DVDs were strongly tied to memories, these things don’t budge the needle on the nostalgia scale.
The fifteenth item does, though just barely. It really wasn’t that hard of a decision to part with my nine-year-old digital antenna that was actually purchased at Radio Shack. If you’re asking what the shit is a digital antenna, you’re probably not alone. So here’s the back story.
In 2007 when I first got the plasma TV I gave up on Day One of the Minimalist Game, I did not have cable. It’s probably a tale for another time, but I was actually cable-free from 2001 to almost the end of 2007. Back then I watched my movies, games, and shows on a clunky thousand-pound TV with rabbit ear antenna. (A 2013 study showed that only 7 percent of US homes utilized antenna to watch TV, and I suspect in 2007 that figure wasn’t much higher.)
Anyway, I remember getting this shiny new 42-inch television home, plugging it in, attaching my antenna, and being pretty pissed off that it did not work. After a few choice curse words and ten minutes on the Internet, I learned that in order for my flat screen to work I either needed cable or a digital antenna. I’m pretty sure I said out loud “what the shit is a digital antenna”. Turned out it was exactly like my current rabbit ears one where you pulled the thingies out and adjusted them until you could reasonably see the picture. But instead of picking up the analog signals in the air it snatched the new digital ones, which beamed back vividly clear images.
The next day I bought an RCA digital antenna for about forty bucks and used it for about six months. I ended up moving to a new apartment in late 2007 that had cable included in the rent. I shoved the thing in my closet, and in the years since I’ve never plugged it again. When I moved from San Francisco to Hawaii I could have easily put the digital antenna in the box along with everything else I donated, but I held onto to it . . . just in case.
As I continue along with this quest to minimize my belongings, I know there’s plenty of other items I’ve been holding onto for some sort of future, mythical use. Time to finally say aloha to these objects of clutter.