Wrestling With Marie Kondo

Two of my favorite baseball players Don Mattingly and Keith Hernandez graced the cover of this vintage Newsday special section. I’m keeping it!

We’ve been doing a lot of spring cleaning these days.

Check that, Diane and my niece have been knee deep in the garage and I get to come home and decide what parts of my past I want to keep and what to throw out or donate. I have to admit it has been difficult for me to part with mementos from the past.

I don’t know if you’ve caught any of the Marie Kondo phenomenon but the organizational guru who challenges people to throw things out if they don’t “spark joy” wouldn’t be my top choice for a dinner party at my house. Truth is, all of my stuff sparks joy—it’s just that there’s so darn much of it.

There are three main causes driving my collection: I’m sentimental, I’ve spent two decades plus as a journalist and I did 7 years in local politics.

That character trait and those two endeavors have generated an overwhelming amount of mementos: clips of articles I’ve written and a slew of plaques, proclamations, letters and ‘do dads’ from my civic work.

For better or for worse, they represent my life’s work—or at least a great deal of it. I’m still out here writing my own story.

So all of it means something to me. The newspaper and magazine stories I wrote, the letters from people who liked something the commission did (we had plenty of critical letters too and I kept some as well) and of course the souvenirs from the places we visited. So while I understand that material possessions pale in comparison to what really matters, these artifacts spark memories and yes Ms. Kondo a certain amount of joy.

But my argument to keep this stuff falls apart if you ask a few basic questions such as: Who is going to want or care about these things when I pass? And short of expiring, how are we going to store/move/organize this stuff should we decide to move or downsize?

Of course, I don’t want to answer any of those questions. But my better half is posing them and it’s hard to put off answering the woman who was brave enough to wade into my vast archives. Plus, she’s really cute and very smart and totally logical. I am simply no match for Diane.

So every night, I come home and wade through another pile.
It’s been an interesting ride…newspapers that take me back to the 80s and 90s, articles that reintroduce me to newsmakers from back in the day, magazine columns penned for Atlantic Ave magazine, old photos, campaign literature from landmark races, vintage Rolling Stone magazines,  a stray Playboy or two (read for the articles of course) and a really bad fake ID that I remember paying $20 for in Times Square so I would be old enough to buy a beer in downtown Port Jefferson—life was sure simpler then.

So here’s what we’ve decided and I think Diane is mostly on board although I’m sure she’d like to cart it all away.

I’m keeping some stuff.

I’m getting rid of some stuff.

I’m donating some stuff.

I’m looking at all of it and reminiscing.

These are my takeaways…

Memories are precious.

Life goes fast.

But you sure rack up a lot of miles and accumulate a lot of stuff.

Most likely, my kids and hopefully my future grandkids, won’t be interested.


And hopefully, there won’t be time to sit back at the end of it all and look back. Why?

Because if all goes well, I’ll be busy making new memories up until the very end. In other words, I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to sit in that rocking chair.

As my friend from across the miles and the years texted me this week—“Life’s about the moments.”


You have got to keep making them.