Introducing: What's Your Oldest, Active Possession?


I was riding the subway recently and as always, was thinking about tidiness and peoples’ relationships with their possessions and how it all comes together in the world. A question suddenly popped into my mind: what are items that people have had forever and still use frequently? I immediately had an overwhelming urge to ask everyone I know and take a deep-dive into the world of long-kept belongings. What makes these items different than those that get the boot after a year or two? Would my grandmother have a fascinating answer to my question? What about my friends; have they kept and used specific things for years and years?

I have spent countless hours helping people get rid of possessions that no longer serve them and have seen everything from expensive still-tagged gowns to roughly used toys that have been through years of play. We bring so much into our lives and are constantly letting so much go. My own relationship with stuff has changed drastically where I’m now a tight gatekeeper, protecting what enters my life and choosing wisely. There’s just too much stuff in the world and I don’t want to personally contribute to the waste. I’m adding enough tons of trash through my work. (Note: I love my work dearly and would never want to do anything else!)

Exploring the possessions that make the cut year after year and continue to get good use is a great outlet to reflect on how we can become more conscious consumers. I won’t go on a rant about that too much (for now), but I think we need to move this focus more to the forefront of our brains. Nothing gives me a greater high than throwing bags of trash down chutes (the noise it makes as it falls is my favorite sound) but it’s too much already. How about we all start buying things that we can be proud to use for years to come?

So, without further ado, I introduce my new series of Tidiness Exploration: What’s Your Oldest, Active Possession? Our first interviewee will be none other than…myself! Because there’s no better way to kick off a series than with a conversation with myself. Here it is:

Hi Tidy. First, tell us a bit about you. What’s your age and profession?

Excited to be here! I’m 31 years old and I’m a Professional Organizer and Cleaning Enthusiast.

We’re all dying to know: what’s your oldest, active possession??

My night guard! I’ve been grinding my teeth since sophomore year of high school and this little guy has been through it all since then. It seriously has saved me - wearing it is the difference between having a massive morning headache and not. There were some close calls over the years but we powered through and got through them together. Like the time that I almost lost it at a hostel in Thailand but found it in the bushes on my way out (true story), or the multiple times that the dentist had to refill the hole that I created through it from such severe grinding. Since it’s so small, you’d think it would have gotten lost by now. But I swear this thing has 900 lives.

What do you love about it?

Honestly, only its function. Sleeping with a piece of plastic jutting out of your mouth is far from cute and it makes my speech all funny too. But it prevents a suuuuper tight jaw upon wakeup (I know from the times that I’ve slept without it) and a headache throughout the next day so the benefits outweigh the setbacks. At this point, we’ve been together over half of my life (!!!) so we’re buddies.

Why do you think it’s stayed with you all these years?

My dentist tried to replace it a few times to make me a more modern, less obtrusive mouth guard but I always felt like “if it ain’t broken…” it’s good enough for me! And since it has such a tendency to get lost under my bed, between the sheets, or in a dog’s mouth (another true story), I try to take extra care to put it away safely in the morning. I generally take good care of my possessions and keep tabs on where things are so it hasn’t ever gotten totally lost in the shuffle and I’m lucky for it. Plan to wear this guy when I’m a grandma!

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