I’ve been told that this is a good idea. Let me say right up front, I have doubts. “It’s a human story,” I’ve been told. “You’ll be struggling to triumph over adversity; you’ll be frankly revealing your struggles – people eat that shit up!” That much I agree with. The problem is that personally speaking, I prefer hearing about such struggles against adversity if in the end, adversity wins.
I know! I know… This is not good. It could even be considered bad. One must not be seen to be taking delight in the misfortune of others. But I think ‘taking delight’ would be an unjust exaggeration. I’m not saying I have some kind of sick desire to see people suffer – no one wants that. It’s not as though I become happy and laugh maniacally when I learn of someone’s failure to overcome hardship. It’s just that story wise, I find the bitterness of failure more interesting than the joy of triumph; it seems more real somehow.
Let’s imagine for example, that I were watching a movie about a boy struggling to survive against some horrible disease. And let’s say the boy is befriended by a wacky but deeply caring doctor who wears clown costumes, thus bringing him delight and hope. And say that Dr. Wacky Clown gives him a puppy named Mr. Sparkles, and of course the boy loves Mr. Sparkles, and the friendly hospital administrators love Mr. Sparkles too, and so allow Mr. Sparkles to stay in the hospital, despite this being a breach of every infection control regulation in the known universe. And say that the joy that Mr. Sparkles brings by licking faces and befriending all the other patients in the ward miraculously cures the boy, who then takes Mr. Sparkles home with him to live forever.
Sure, I’d puke into my own mouth several times before the end of this film, but I wouldn’t be sitting there wishing that the kid would hurry up and die already, or that Mr. Sparkles would be mowed down by a speeding ambulance while lifting a leg in the ER parking lot. What I would be doing however, is driving my date crazy by constantly rolling my eyeballs ceilingward, sighing loudly, and repeatedly asking if we could go home and have sex instead. In other words, I would never willingly choose to watch such a dreadful, predictable, yawn-fest of a movie.
On the other hand, one of the most captivating and terrifying films I have ever seen was a re-enacted documentary of a mountain climbing adventure, in which absolutely everybody dies… one at a time, while the mountain apparently tries its absolute damnedest not only to prevent the climbers from reaching the summit, but also to kill them all for having the impudence to ever try it in the first place. This movie I found so gripping and realistic, that my palms were sweating from height induced adrenalin just watching it (which, if you’ve never been rock climbing will seem weird and gross), and it removed all desire I’ve ever had to do any serious mountaineering. For me, one of the most memorable moments in any film, is the final scene of this one, in which the leader of the climbing party, after 3 weeks of desperately fighting for survival, dies while dangling from the end of a rope within shouting distance of his rescuers.
So, what is my point? What does this have to do with getting rid of my shit? I’m saying that I am filled with trepidation and fear about this series of posts for a number of reasons, most significantly because my instincts are telling me it’s going to be boring to read. If someone told me that they were going to write a series of posts documenting them selling everything they owned, I’d do one of those really annoying loud fake yawns. If they then tried to convince me to read it on the grounds that it contains a significant human element and will be an emotional experience for the protagonist, who will be writing about his feelings; I’d do one of those even more annoying pretend fingers down throat vomits. However!, if they told me they had intended to write about getting rid of all their stuff, but instead had to write about being so emotionally retarded that they failed…well then I might read it.
So I’m writing something that, were it about someone else, unless it were outlandishly funny, or I knew they were going to fail, I’d almost certainly not read. Given that I’m not willing to bet against myself by assuming that I’ll fail, that leaves making it funny. And I’m funny, but I don’t know if I’m funny enough to carry the entire series with funny, if it turns out that other people are just like me and find the whole ‘struggle against adversity/triumph in the end/human interest’ stuff to be…how shall I put this…ummm…boring as bat shit.
But I can safely say that it won’t be boring for me. I have a storage unit chock full of stuff. My stuff. My deceased father’s stuff. His father’s stuff. Family stuff that is heavily weighted with sentimental value. To anyone but me, a lot of it would look insignificant. But as George Carlin puts it: “Have you ever noticed how other people’s stuff is shit, and your shit is stuff?”
Some of my shit will be easy to get rid of. Some of it will go straight to the tip. But most of it will not. Most of it I imagine will involve a painful process of attempting to detach myself from objects to which I am firmly emotionally attached, so that I can unburden myself of them. I’m calling this adversity. Obviously, in the end I plan to be the miraculously cured one taking Mr. Sparkles home… actually no, I’ll be re-homing Mr. Sparkles – no way I’m going through this whole process of shit disposal, and then coming home with a friggin dog!
So, I’m writing about it for two reasons: 1) I’m all about entertainment, so despite my personal doubts, I’m putting my trust in the opinion of others who assure me that my readers will find this entertaining; 2) I know myself well enough to know that if I’m writing about it, then I’ll do it; because if I don’t do it, then I’ll have nothing to write about. And if it goes on too long and I get bored with writing about it, then the only way through will be to get rid of my shit faster, or to give up and keep it. Either way, I’ll be forced to do something, and my integrity as a writer means that I’ll be forced to report what that something was. Self indulgent this may be, but I think it will be interesting, for you and me both.