Bob Driver sig (new)

Along with all the wonders TV and other media can bring to us, we must also put up with witnessing the miseries of life. If you cannot name any or all of them, they will sooner or later appear on your TV or computer screen.

Such as addictions. If you were forced to choose one, which would you pick? Alcohol? Smoking? Cocaine and other deadly drugs? Food? Sex?

How about hoarding? That's getting a lot of TV coverage these days.

The programs usually center on one jumbled household, filled with objects of significant value, mixed in with what can only be called trash.

Hoarding may not get you arrested, hospitalized or catapulted into abject poverty, but it can wreck your life. At least that's the impression I'm getting from watching the TV programs that describe the hoarding process.

In truth, don't we all have a trace of hoarding in our lives? Think about it. Aren't there one or two items (quite often totally useless for practical application) that we would fight to keep in our home or daily routines?

Someone has said, "If it's books, it isn't hoarding." Well, maybe not.

But I've known people who could not go to sleep at night without a book or magazine in their hands. That may not fit the exact definition of hoarding, but isn't it still a form of addiction?

How can we tell when the hoarding addiction has finally taken full control? Possibilities: it occurs when there's not a decent chair to sit in. Or a 2-foot slice of bed to lie down in. Or an unblocked path to the only toilet in the house.

A tendency to hoard may appear in youngsters who refuse to be separated from favorite dolls or toys. This will usually disappear with time; actual hoarding is much more common among older men and women. According to one source I found, science has not yet discovered a way to prevent hoarding. What's more important for a victim is to seek treatment. But many hoarders resist that. All the items in a trash-filled home may symbolize security or friendship.

The dangers of hoarding include falling, disease, rats, fire hazards and loneliness. Often, a hoarder may have family members who were or are afflicted by the same tendencies to hang on to all possessions, useful or not.

As I age I find myself caught up in a mild variety of hoarding; I call it cluttering. It takes the form of endless, confusing layers of paper — periodicals, bills, requests for donations, advertisements and scraps of discarded writing ideas. Instead of saving them, I want to dispose of them in any way possible.

Except that some of the papers must be saved and put into files. That means I must decide: which ones? Is there an expert or school that teaches "anti-cluttering"? Sometimes I dream of waking up and finding my home free of clutter. Every desk, kitchen counter and cupboard would be a masterpiece of a motto that says "A place for everything, and everything in its place." Then I awake, and harsh reality returns.

But hope does exist for hoarders. Good old Wikipedia contains the names of several treatment centers that specialize in this affliction.

A final thought: before any of us spend another hour pitying real-life hoarders, maybe we should try to empty out the trash and clutter we carry around in our own minds. Although nobody's perfect, the average Joe or Jane would be horrified if one day a voice sounded, saying "We know every thought you have, and we're going to tell the world about it right now!"

Bob Driver's email address is tralee71@comcast.net.