In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m no Deepak Chopra. Or Oprah Winfrey for that matter, as much as I would love to be. I am not fortunate to be skilled enough to spout so much wisdom in one day, let alone a lifetime. But I am old enough and wise enough to know that the clutter in my life constitutes a negative waste of space, quite literally. And I mean in all its forms, whether we’re talking about the fifty carrier bags* that are shoved into your one bag-for-life, the books you have read a hundred times but won’t part with (this is my particular weakness) to the clutter in your mind; the worries about things that haven’t even happened, regrets about things that have, and all the life junk that needs to be chucked out with the rest of the physical rubbish.
Clutter serves only to obstruct. To get in the way and to be a nuisance. Having things fall out on you when you open cupboards, losing things in your own house because they are lost amongst the clutter and holding on to objects that you really don’t need, cause many an unnecessary frustration. How do you think the expression ‘to clear one’s mind’ came about? I have no idea, but I’m sure it’s to do with not being able to think properly because your brain is too cluttered.
Goals are good…apparently
We are moving in a few months (yay!). To something more us, more basic, more rustic, less neighbours, (if you count the horses in the fields across from us as neighbours). Yet, I am already foreseeing a little bit of trouble and stress ahead. However, in an attempt to not clutter my mind with negative energy aimed at a presently non-existent event, I am trying not to worry about it. Instead, I am trying to think constructively and look at the good that will come out of this move. Downsizing, depopulating and finally, yes, de-cluttering.
We moved to this current house in an emergency. The much-loved last house was repossessed from the owners (not us sadly) by the bank. Although, we were given time to stay there, the house as if knowing it was no longer loved, gave up on itself. Major electrical problems ensued and the well (our only source of water) dried up. Our little man was a month old. We had bare minimum electricity and no running water. The bank, because most banks are bastards (fact), were not interested. Their only interest was to sell the property, not to be landlords. So within a week, from the first viewing to the day of moving (a few days before Christmas, may I add), we had transferred our entire lives into our current house.
The point of this tale is not to invoke sorrow. We’re over it. There are worst things that could happen in life and having to move under a bit of duress isn’t one of them. But what moving in such a hurry meant was that we did not have a chance to de-clutter, to get rid of the crap we had spent the years building up. We were literally throwing saucepans on to the backs of car seats, some with food still in them, because we had very little time to find boxes, label things, get rid of junk and move sensibly, with whole lot less physical and of course metaphorical baggage.
Look at the positives or invent some
So this time around, I am excited. There is so much that has to go and I see it as a personal challenge to actually get rid of it all. My problem is, I put too much of ourselves and our history into everything. I look at a CD, one that was transferred to my I-pod years ago but my heart twinges when I try to throw/give it away because it contains a song that I used to play all the time when I first met my husband. BUT IT’S ON MY I-POD!! I am shouting at myself now, annoyed by my own sentimentality-cum-stupidity. But still I can’t do it.
If you were to run around my house on a supermarket sweep type mission, I can guarantee that I can apply some reasoning to any one item you would have selected, for why it could not be thrown away, gifted, or donated to someone else.
These things include the blanket I have washed a thousand times and absolutely stinks but I wont throw away because the dogs love it and I bought it with me from Mexico. The pink shoes that I have worn once (I’m not really a pink girl) but am convinced there will be an outfit that they will go with one day and so I don’t want to regret giving them away, in case there comes a time that I will need them (there I go again, regretting something that hasn’t happened yet!). And trust me, my reasoning does not just apply to that pair of shoes, there are more, many more and not just shoes.
Now I am re-focusing my mind on the good. I’m thinking about all the wonderful things I can do with my mounds of surplus stuff. I like to think that one woman’s rubbish is another woman’s treasure. Some technophobe out there may have a good home for all our superfluous CDs, vinyl and VHSs (yes, we’ve still got them!). The unwanted gas heater can be sold instead of being lugged from house to house. The books could be donated. Note how I say could – I’m still a work in progress. I need to remember that just because my name and the date I bought it is written inside every book in black ink, it doesn’t mean I have to have them in my possession for the rest of my life. Even taking the time to rid my phone of numbers that I never ring like the Indian restaurant in the town I lived in four years ago, or getting rid of files on my computer that I never use, I know will make me feel so much better, so much lighter!
So, in drawing in a deep breath and drawing on some inspiration from Deepak by rejigging a phrase that probably earned him millions, I shall end by saying that de-cluttering is a journey, not a destination. Perhaps, for me it will be a journey of an-around-the-world-trip proportion but I’m sure I will get there, eventually. You just wait and see.
* My American au pair tells me carrier bags will not make an iota of sense to any American readers. These are the plastic bags that you get from supermarkets to put your shopping in. The UK and Spain don’t do paper bags, unfortunately.