Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Urge to Keep

keep (n.) Look up keep at

mid-13c., "care or heed in watching," from keep (v.). Meaning "innermost stronghold of a tower" is from 1580s, perhaps a translation of It. tenazza, with a notion of "that which keeps" (someone or something); the sense of "food required to keep a person or animal" is attested from 1801. For keeps "completely, for good" is Amer.Eng. colloquial, from 1861.
keep (v.) Look up keep at
late O.E. [Old English] cepan "to seize, hold," also "to observe," from P.Gmc. [Proto Germanic] *kopijanan, but with no certain connection to other languages. It possibly is related to O.E. capian "to look," from P.Gmc. *kap- (cepan was used c.1000 to render L. observare), which would make the basic sense "to keep an eye on."
The word prob. belongs primarily to the vulgar and non-literary stratum of the language; but it comes up suddenly into literary use c.1000, and that in many senses, indicating considerable previous development. [OED]
Sense of "preserve, maintain" is from mid-14c. Meaning "to maintain in proper order" is from 1550s; meaning "financially support and privately control" (usually in reference to mistresses) is from 1540s. Related: Kept; keeping.

and from 

keep - verb (used with object)
1. to hold or retain in one's possession; hold as one's own: If you like it, keep it. Keep the change.
2. to hold or have the use of for a period of time: You can keep it for the summer.
3. to hold in a given place; store: You can keep your things in here.
4. to maintain (some action), especially in accordance with specific requirements, a promise, etc.: to keep watch; to keep step.
5. to cause to continue in a given position, state, course, or action: to keep a light burning; to keep a child happy.

People in charge of keeping stuff:  bookkeepers, beekeepers, barkeepers, keepers, innkeepers, Promise keepers, secret keepers, housekeepers, recordkeepers, timekeepers, gamekeepers, lighthouse keepers, groundskeepers, gatekeepers, shopkeepers, scorekeepers, peacekeepers, zookeepers . . .

Keeping we all do:  keeping in mind, keeping clean, keeping our word, keep our noses clean, keeping it together, keeping our chins up, keeping our powder dry, keeping up to date, keeping it real, keeping in touch, keeping it under our hats, keeping on track, keeping warm, keeping our cool, keeping an eye out, keeping a stiff upper lip, keeping up . . .

Stuff we keep:  keepsakes, and waayyyyyy too much other stuff

No wonder The Everyday Minimalist finds that
  • 25% of people with 2 car garages don’t park cars in there — they store their junk instead
  • The storage facility industry is worth $154 billion dollars, more than the film biz!
  • 1 in 11 American households rents a self-storage space, spending $1000/year in rent
  • On average, it costs $10/square foot to store items in your home
  • The average American receives 49,060 pieces of mail in their lifetime, 1/3 of it is junk mail
  • 23% of us pay our bills late and incur fees because we’ve lost track of our statements
  • 80% of the clutter in your home or office is a result of disorganization, not lack of space
  • Getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40% of your housework in an average home
  • We spend one whole year of our entire lives, just looking for lost items
  • As a whole, Americans spend 9 million hours a day looking for lost items
I for one intend to keep on working on keeping less.

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