x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

The Air Bag: Clutter is just a sign of living life

Eventually, it's something we all have to go through, endure even, with an overbearing burden of anxiety and frustration that would drive people over the edge in longer doses.

Eventually, it's something we all have to go through, endure even, with an overbearing burden of anxiety and frustration that would drive people over the edge in longer doses. Whether it happens every year or every decade, the torment is the same.

I'm talking, of course, about moving house. It's that time for me; after four years in the same flat, I'm moving on to greener pastures here in Abu Dhabi. On one hand, I'm extremely excited: it's a better neighbourhood, a nicer apartment, my own parking spot and it even has a storage locker. No more smelly ice hockey gear spread across my living room on a Sunday night; or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday ...

But, after four years, I've realised that I'm a pack rat. And that's where the anxiety comes in; it's just a one-bedroom apartment, but I've got the contents of a four-bedroom villa. And I'm not talking grand pianos or lavish, 14th century furniture; it's all the papers, trinkets, doodads, and gadgets that I've accumulated throughout my travels and experiences, stuff that I put down and never pick up again. So, before the movers come, it's time to clean house.

With garbage bag in hand, I begin working through the rooms. And that's when I see how much of my job I take home with me - literally.

Each room is filled with the paraphernilia of cars I've driven, launches I've travelled to around the world or even car magazines I've bought for one reason or another, and I find myself taking a bit of time with each one. As I pick them up, deciding on whether to keep them or not, I can't help but wander back in my mind to that time I got the item, and the different memories and feelings I had with each experience.

But with time running out, I need to be judicious and ruthless; do I need all these car models? I don't collect them, I've never been into the hobby (at least, in my post-pubescent era), and I already have more than enough stuff that does a perfectly good job of collecting dust. Fortunately, the silent auction at my office will ensure that not only various charities but some co-worker's little boy or girl will get a bit of happiness out of them.

And those magazines? I'm sure that, if I were to keep them for 20 years or so, I could get a pretty penny on eBay for the lot - maybe even Dh200. But I just don't have that kind of foresight, or room, for that matter.

Some hats I'll keep, and I'm a big fan of the pens and USB sticks, no matter how large a collection I have. Books will stay, too. But as I slowly move from room to room, I'm flush with contrasting feelings: sure, I feel a little guilty getting rid of something that has even a bit of connection with my past, but it's really quite liberating to get rid of stuff, whittling down to a more basic and uncluttered existence.

Besides, I don't need that giant model of the Mercedes SLS AMG to remember how wonderfully soniferous its 6.3L V8 is; I don't need the Land Rover keychain to recall crossing a river with water up to the top of the tyres of an LR4 in beautiful Scotland; and I certainly don't need that arm sling from Leh, India, to remind me of the adventurous and eventful ride on - and off - the back of a Royal Enfield in the Himalayas.

Five hours and six rubbish bags later, I'm done. And as I take a breather on the couch, I think ahead to actually settling in to the new place, feeling lighter for the work I've just put in. I look at the shelves and they're noticeably lighter, too.

But if they gradually fill up again, I won't mind too much. Because it just means that I'm still having fun at my job.