「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Are you a hoarder?

By Tan Ying Zhen


I'd never thought of myself as a hoarder, not until last month when I inadvertently lost 2 kilograms while packing up for my move back to Singapore. I was amazed (or rather, horrified) by the sheer amount of things I'd accumulated during my three years in Japan.

How had I ended up with eight cups and mugs, five glasses and far too many plates and spoons for someone living alone? How would I ever finish reading the piles of books and magazines I couldn't resist buying? What would I do with the stack of postcards and travel brochures that I'd collected from my visits to various places in Japan? Also, does anyone really need so many bags, clothes and shoes? (Ironically, I realized I owned a tote bag which was printed with the words, "Less is more.")

Unfortunately, it was easier for me to lose my own weight than to reduce my luggage. It seemed a waste to throw usable things away, especially as they were things I still fancied. I gave away some items, but did not want to cause people trouble by compelling them to take something they might not need.

In particular, I found it impossible to throw away things of sentimental value such as thank-you notes, even if they were scribbled on scraps of paper. I also kept the name tags my students drew for a class activity. The tags had pictures drawn by the students, and I simply could not bring myself to throw them away.

A few colleagues kindly offered to help. Almost everyone gave the same advice: "Just throw it away!" One said, "If you haven't used it or looked at it in the past year, toss it out." She has one of the neatest desks at work and is always organized. She'd told me about the concept of danshari — to refuse, to dispose of and to separate away from.

"It's therapeutic," she said.

I knew it would be. So I tried to throw away as many things as I could. It was somewhat liberating to see my apartment getting less cluttered than before, but I also felt weighed down by what I could not bring away. They were physical reminders of all I'd loved, concrete links to my treasure trove of memories. I knew I would never forget, but it wouldn't hurt to have something to help me remember, right?

I ended up sending 12 boxes home, but I still have too much luggage for my flight. By the time you read this, I will be home in Singapore after hopefully having made it through customs.

Moving out of a country I love has made me learn how important it is to be less attached to physical things. I should spend less time acquiring new things, and more on enjoying what I already have. The memories and everyone's love will always be there with me, and my heart will always have room for more.



The Japan Times ST: September 6, 2013

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




2018年6月29日号    試読・購読   デジタル版