I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t have some sort of Clutter. It may be their garage, their car, their closets, or their refrigerator. On a different level, it may be one-sided relationships, a schedule too busy, or pent-up frustrations. And on yet a different level, it may be a disorganized office, untrained staff, or an inability to communicate productively with people. Somewhere, there’s probably Clutter.
For me, Clutter is all of the stuff I keep neatly hidden away that no one but me ever sees, the stuff in my closet and basement that I’ll likely never use. My parents (sorry, Dad and Mom) were Pack Rats. They saved everything because “you never knew when you might need it”. I mean, we had clothespins left over from when everything was hung outside to dry, the time before we had a dryer in the house! (“You never know when the dryer might go out”) They were prepared, just like their parents taught them to be. After all, their parents had survived The Depression, and they did it by being frugal, saving every penny, using everything to its best use. Nothing was bought that was not used fully.
Of course, then came along the 50’s, 60’s, and beyond when the economy wasn’t depressed, and people could “afford” to buy things they didn’t really need. Ahhh, the beginnings of Clutter.
My first house was built in 1927. There were no closets. There was no attic or basement storage. (We had to add all of that when we moved in …) Have you ever thought why homes were built that way? Do you think people just sat around in their Clutter all day because they had no storage facility? Today, if you don’t have enough storage space at home, you can always rent space elsewhere to keep your Clutter. If you rent space like that, when did you last visit your Clutter-Away-From-Home?
I know of some really smart people who have taken the time to “tag” their Clutter with a date. If they don’t touch the tagged Clutter in 6 months, out it goes. Not a bad idea. Me, I don’t have time for tagging; I just know if I use it or I don’t. (I have a lot of ‘I don’ts)
Recently, I started my “Get Rid of Clutter” project, again vowing to not create more Clutter once I create Space. I started with my home office (where I’m writing you from), then moved to my closets, and am now ready to tackle the garage and the basement. So far, I’ve given away 5 busloads of perfectly good items I’ll likely never touch again to local charities. The feeling is freeing. I can breathe again.
And this time, something different happened to me.
I began questioning the difference between Clutter and My Sacred Objects – you know, those things you hold onto because they have special meaning to you. The problem has been that My Sacred Objects pile never seems to shrink. So I began asking the question, “Why?” I began wondering in what ways was this special type of Clutter cluttering my life? Could it be that there was a spiritual connection to My Sacred Objects that – unless released – could halt my growth? Certainly, we have all felt the freedom that comes with Space when we get rid of the Clutter. That’s the release of our spirit. So, the answer was obvious to me: the more I cluttered my life with My Sacred Objects, the less freedom I was going to feel. So the task was before me: part with My Sacred Objects.
Oh. Ouch. Yikes.
I’m not recommending (for those of you inclined to take immediate action) that you grab all of the family photos, trophies, and diplomas and throw them away. I am asking you to examine how Clutter and that special type of Clutter – My Sacred Objects – prevents you from experiencing Space in your life … the ability to breathe … freedom!
I’m then asking you to consider how you might feel to have No Clutter in your life – ‘regular’ Clutter or My Sacred Objects included. Can you imagine the possibilities?
Essentially, what I came to realize was that I had come across a principle that the Buddhists call Non-Attachment, perhaps my own Americanized version. The Buddhists believe that Non-Attachment gives us the much-needed space to contemplate what we want and what we hate so as to more fully reflect upon whether these things we love or loathe will truly bring us the pain or pleasure we believe they contain.
What role do you believe Clutter, My Sacred Objects, Space, and Non-Attachment have in your life? What are you willing to explore?