I am constantly fighting a war. Sometimes my side advances, claiming an empty stretch of unbroken carpet. Sometimes the other side creeps forward, and new piles appear like stealth missiles.
Despite being a Zen girl, I regularly battle the dark forces of clutter. Zen tells me that nothing is inherently good or evil, and while I’ll concede that, I would label some things as relentlessly frustrating. I’ve gotten a lot better about this over the years. I purge numerous items every time I move, and I work very hard not to bring new things in without removing old ones. I do fairly well on the fronts I am monitoring, but I am very aware of clutter’s sneaky ways. One small decision can lead to a boatload of new items before I look over my shoulder. I try to stay aware.
I’ve learned to be very careful not to collect things, because the whole point of collections is to make them bigger. For me, that’s a prescription for doom. Each decision makes a difference in this war, and sometimes I find one that helps. I had my ears pierced as a child, and during my twenties I collected an enormous number of earrings. I decided, for a while, that earrings were my thing. I bought them, I made them, and I would wear a different pair every day. Then I bought and made things to store the earrings, to organize them. It’s amazing how something so small can take up so much physical and mental space. I quit earrings cold turkey years ago, and I don’t miss them at all.
Of course some things are worth the space they claim. I will always be surrounded by books. Home wouldn’t feel like home without them. Your results may vary. The friends who helped me move them up the stairs certainly thought they were clutter, but I know better. A person also needs certain things to function. I’ve got plates to eat from, and pots to cook soup. I don’t have service for twelve, though. I’m not running a restaurant.
I know this is a battle I will continue to fight, but each small victory brings great joy. Someday I even expect an end to the hostilities. I’ve just got to find my way through these boxes first.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
164. What role does clutter play in your life? How does it make you feel? What can you do about it? Take one small step today.