My friend, who is a popular lecturer, tells me the following story:
“I was invited to hold a lecture in Beer-Sheba, and a couple of good friends who live there offered me to spend the night at their house. I’ve known these people for quite a while, the husband is a professor, the wife also an educated, professional woman. I had never visited them at any time before and I gratefully accepted their offer.
"But then entering their home, I experienced quite a shock. The place was so full; everything seemed to fall on my head. There was hardly any air to breathe, cupboards, tables, chairs one on top of the other, I did not know where to place myself and I realized that I had entered the home of hoarders!”
“I understand ," I said to her, "that they are hoarding furniture. Did you notice them hoarding anything else?”
“Everything! Whatever they can get hold of, they safe keep in their home. I know that they have children and grandchildren, where do they put them when they come to visit? They had invited me to spend the night, I couldn’t see any extra bedroom or any extra bed!
"All I could think of was how to escape from there, but in the end I survived! I am sure that hoarders make life difficult for people around them, but not less difficult for themselves! A person who needs to possess everything in view, or not even in view, probably never finds peace in his life!”
After talking to my friend I tried to define the difference between a hoarder and a collector. Of course the word “collector” has much more class than the word “hoarder,” but isn’t it the same thing?
It all depends on what you collect or hoard. People collect art, cars, first editions. In my son’s house I found a basket full of …corks. When I asked him about them he said:
“Soon it will be a world without a single cork around. And then I will have this multitude of corks and I may even sell it to another cork collector at a good price!”
I myself am a humble collector/hoarder of…plastic bags. I don’t know why, I simply cannot throw away a plastic bag; some of them are so pretty! My love for plastic bags used to drive my former and greatly regretted cleaning lady, Nadya, to distraction.
Upon her arrival here, she first opened that cupboard which was so full of plastic bags that they started to spill out. She looked at me reproachfully and said:
“Why oh why must you act like an old woman?”
“Nadya," I said, "don’t you realize that I am an old woman?”
“Well, maybe, maybe but hoarding plastic bags makes you even older!”
After Nadya left, that cupboard was again clean and prepared to receive a new batch of plastic bags quite soon.
Nadya is no longer working for me but we stay in touch. She came to visit me a few weeks ago; the first thing she did was open that cupboard, gather all the plastic bags in her arms and throw them into the trash bin.
The job done with great gusto, she said:
“Now we can sit down and talk!”
However, there is something else which I collect and which I am kind of proud. I have postcards from all over the world, received from family and friends many decades ago. Only the other day I held one in my hand which came from Paris and was dated June 1946.
It said: “Paris would be so much nicer if you were here with me!” The card was signed George and of course I have no recollection whatsoever who that George was. I was so young then, wasn’t it kind of early for romance? And that George…what was he doing in Paris?
Although I very much feel like it, I can’t hoard clothes, simply because I don’t have the space. Whenever I buy a new blouse, I stand there in front of my closet and try to decide which old blouse has got to go. It’s a very painful process which leaves me emotionally drained. But also full of self-admiration.