This weekend I decided it was time to have a good old closet clear-out. With temperatures approaching summer levels here in Washington later this week, it was only sensible to change the wardrobe over from Winter to Summer gear. In the process, I ended up with a pile of castoffs about four feet high, consisting of some suits I never wear, several pairs of trousers that are a bit too worn to hold onto, and a number of coats and jackets that have barely seen the light of day in a year.
According to most lifestyle experts, this de-hoarding process will make my life better. If I just go through and toss anything I haven’t worn in the last 6-12 months, I’ll simplify my life. Everything around me will be so much more fulfilling, once I have less “stuff” in it.
Except, of course, that they’re lying about their motivations for telling me this.
In my 150-year-old house, the justification for clearing out the closets is obvious; in fact, closets were probably something of an afterthought by the builder, meaning space is at a premium. I have no problem trying to figure out how to get rid of things I don’t need. What is harder is noting the passage of time that comes part and parcel with this process, which can be a bit of a temporary downer.
Fortunately, the media is more than happy to provide an antidote to that feeling. For the morning news show producers and the glossy magazine editors don’t really want you to simplify your life. They’re not particularly interested in whether you would now have more time to do things like go work charitably on behalf of the poor, or focus on building your relationship with God, or spending time talking with your spouse, family and friends. Rather, what they want you to do is to buy more stuff.
Yes that’s right, the irony is, after having convinced you to empty out your closets, and making you depressed about how you don’t have the figure you used to have, or how you’re too old to wear some of the things you used to love, or you spent a fortune on something that actually looks terrible on you and is now out of fashion, the secular media wants you to fill all those drawers you just emptied right back up again. Their goal isn’t teaching you simplification: it’s making you addicted to materialism. Once you realize what they’re doing, their power is broken, but unfortunately too many people never stop to think about it.
I’ve always been something of a clothes horse, ever since I can remember, so the semi-annual wardrobe clear-out is something that I’ve always done, and will probably continue to do well into the future. Yet one day – God willing many decades from now – someone else will be doing a last clear-out of whatever is hanging in my closet at that time. Hopefully, when they do so, they’ll note that I was a good dresser, because frankly, I enjoy that sort of thing. However, I hope that they’ll be more likely to think to themselves about my being a good human being, who cared more about people and things that truly matter, than I did about the empty, addictive promises of materialism.