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We’re all inclined to stash: the catch-all drawer in the study; the jammed shelves in the front hall closet; the rusting bikes and tools in the garage; the dusky trunks in the attic; the bulging sacks in the basement; the faded shed in the backyard; the discolored boxes stashed in the annex; the stacks of recipes from House and Garden bundled in the kitchen cupboards.

What compels us to hoard stuff we think we’ll use someday, especially when that “someday” rarely arrives?

A similar clutter can also occur in our psyches vacuuming social media for titillation, engorging the latest scandal from The Hill or undigested trivia, staring down our neighbor’s excesses—even Broadway productions of festering resentments.

And then we wonder why we seek medical or psychiatric attention: pills to fix us, an injection to mellow us, or even surgery to cut out the disorder.

Can it be about mindlessness?

There is a response to this disorder offered by a wise friend: “If in doubt, out!”

The swoosh of frigid air within a hearty welcome jump-started my cane-waking as we pulled open the automatic door at the Y. It was almost too much, my helper supporting my upper arm, until steadied.

Seated upon a plastic chair in the lobby, her thin arms leaning against her housekeeping trolley, she had belted, “Hi! Back again, I see! Good for you!”—the words still echoed down the corridor, her image fixed in my heart: her wide toothless grin, her round eyes accustomed to seeing deeply, her pixie-braided-head jiggling with delight, her bosom creating peaks and valleys beneath her blue uniform shirt. Veined hands still bore the imprint of hard work, from all times.

In a split second, she had revealed her seasoned spirit of having been tossed around Life’s washing machine—when it worked.

I will not forget.

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