Tag Archives: stuff

A Storage Philosophy for Garages, Closets, and Hard Drives

“I might need that.”

Step into my garage, my office, my shed, or my closet, and you’ll quickly discover that those four simple words are the guiding philosophy of most of my life and all of the spaces I occupy.

Those four words are the reason I’m convinced that the best rental property imaginable these days is not made up of lots and houses folks have acquired to rent to other folks to live in. No. The best rental property is not designed for human habitation at all; it’s built for people to use to store the stuff that’s about to literally bury them in the habitation in which they do live. My facility would be called “Because You Might Need That” Storage.

That popular philosophy/disease being what it is, people will clean out a garage or a spare room or an office, and then decide to rent storage space for a couple of months until they have time to go through all the junk.

A year later, of course, the stuff’s still stored, and the meter’s still running. Later still, the heirs of the original packrats will likely be on Social Security before they find time to don hazmat suits and dig through the archaeological waste accumulated by their progenitors. More than likely, they’ll then open the door, take one look at the detritus, and decide to pay the rental fee for a couple more months until they psych themselves up to tackle the mountainous mess. An eye-blink later, it’s a year later. The meter is still running.

All of this points to the fact that most of us have way too much stuff, a large percentage of which should have long ago been labelled “garbage” and relegated to a landfill. But we don’t toss it; we store it. Why? Repeat the four words.

A glance at my computer’s “desktop” will confirm that those four words also constitute my digital philosophy. I’ve got a new computer arriving in a few days, so I’ve been deleting old files and programs. I still need to find time to look through a file labelled “Old Files” that I created and moved from the computer that preceded this one five-and-a-half years ago. What I’ll probably do is start off digitally packing and tossing, and then I’ll mutter, sigh, and create a new folder called, maybe, “Old Files 2.” It’s the equivalent of packing one room at your old house, throwing up your hands, and then just letting the professional movers pack it all, trash still in your waste baskets, moving everything, garbage and all, to the new one. You can always sort through it later, right? And who knows? [Insert the four-word mantra here.]

I’ve found a program and a cable that promise to seamlessly move everything from the old machine to the new one, all settings intact. Is that a blessing or a curse? I really should make some decisions about which forty of the forty-five pictures of our five-year-old grandson’s first birthday that I keep. But, sure as the world, if I delete five, I’m afraid that I’ll wake up and realize, well, you know. So I just ordered a massive hard drive (so I can pack the trash cans, too). More storage. That’s the ticket.

No wonder Jesus warns, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, where old hard drives crash and new operating systems corrupt” (Matthew  6:19, mostly).


     You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2017 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.


The Only Stuff Worth Piling Up Is “Treasure in Heaven”

piles of records

A few weeks after my father passed away in January 2000, my siblings and I re-gathered to go through his stuff. And I resolved to keep less stuff.

Dad left us, and many more people as well, a legacy worth more than gold. He also left a prodigious amount of paper.

Some of it was correspondence of real historical value for anyone interested in the history of “our” little group of churches. I’ve only scratched the surface, but the letters I’ve read bear testimony to the Christlike heart, wisdom, and gentle spirit of my father, his devotion to his Father, and the struggles he, perhaps as much as any single individual, helped lead this little group of churches through. By God’s grace, Dad left a legacy of love that will long be blessing folks who never even knew him.

Yes, and I repeat, he also left much paper. Records. Files. Bible teaching materials. Most in English. A good bit in Spanish. (He loved to teach and preach in Spanish and did so fluently.)

Dad kept records of every sort. Amidst years of bank statements, I found the check he wrote to Amarillo’s Northwest Texas Hospital at my birth. I’ve never thought of myself as any great bargain, but it turns out that I was. At least if you compare 1957 dollars to 2013 dollars. My younger brother found the check paid for him as well. I don’t remember if we compared amounts, but it would be only proper if they got him a good bit more cheaply.

When our sister died in 2007, my brothers and I gathered in Houston for more stuff-sifting. She had the same packrat propensity but on steroids. And I swore a solemn oath to keep less stuff.

Ah, but there’s a reason Jesus told us to avoid oath-making. And, sadly, the only resolution I’ve ever come close to keeping is my resolution never to make resolutions.

Give me a full month to do just two things—breathe, and work on tossing the “stuff” that’s threatening to bury me—I might make a small dent in the pile. If this were the only reason my kids should pray for my longevity, it’s a good one.

But yesterday UPS delivered to my door a new shredder. Only three or four “overheat” cycles later, I’d destroyed a decade or a few of old checks and bank statements. I feel freer already.

I knew better than to look at the checks much, but just the glimpses I caught as I was feeding the machine took me on side trips down Memory Lane—and bolstered the not-so-surprising but stark truth that we write in our check registers the real story of what, and who, is most important in our lives. Two file boxes down the road, I’m nowhere near where I need to be on this journey, but . . .

Jesus told us a long time ago that the only stuff truly worth piling up is “treasure in heaven.” The rest of it, you can’t take with you.

With apologies to my children, may I say a resounding and heartfelt, “Good!” When I’m gone, I suggest to them some combination of a front end loader, matches, and a landfill—and a swift kick in the pants to any sibling who says, “Oh, I don’t know, we might need that.”


 You’re invited to visit my website at http://www.CurtisShelburne.com!


Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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