There are a lot of books out there that talk about clutter. There are systems for dealing with it and for keeping you from creating more. There are theories about clutter on your desk at work. There are theories about clutter in your home. There are hoarder shows, clutter to the nth degree, on TV.
I am a pile maker. I have a stack of books to read. I have an accumulation of files that need to be put away. I have a perpetual mound of dishes in the drainer. I have a basket of socks that need to be paired. This leads, quite naturally, to clutter.
I have noticed that I am really good at keeping a clear space clear. I am amazingly organized when I travel. I don’t spread out all over the hotel room. I keep dirty clothes in a clothes bag. Even at home, if I establish a “clear space” I tend to keep it clear.
I have also noticed that as soon as one small object invades a clean space, all bets are off. If I happen to set something down on an empty table and leave it there, within the week it becomes a pile. If I happen to leave something out on a clear counter, more things just collect. It’s my experience that clutter begets clutter.
I have two problems with the theories about putting things away in the moment and not letting them become clutter. The first problem is that I don’t live alone. 90% of the time the one piece of paper, or pen, or can of soup that gets left out wasn’t mine. It doesn’t stop the clutter from continuing. Apparently clutter is an indiscriminate breeder.
My second problem is even harder to address. I have some significant health problems. I get by, but I do tend to push the edges. Sometimes I will come home from shopping, carry the bags in one at a time, and be so worn out that I literally can’t unpack. This also applies to traveling. The bags often don’t get unpacked for a week or more.
With these bad habits eventually the clutter does become overwhelming. This is when I really start to notice those books may be right. I get preoccupied with avoidance. Not only do I avoid the clutter, but also some of my other daily tasks. I start to lose track of things. Sometimes it’s papers I was sure were in the pile, but that expands. It’s as though my brain doesn’t keep track as well if the house is cluttered.
If living a spiritual life is being in alignment with your higher purpose, that alignment is also disturbed by clutter. My shrines don’t get tended. The plants don’t get watered. The environment doesn’t lend itself to doing any kind of spiritual work. There is a reason our imaginings of cloistered communities include nuns and monks on their knees scrubbing the floors.
So this is a week devoted to dealing with the clutter. I’ve been sorting through my filing. I’ve been cleaning up the kitchen. I have the “get the car in the garage” project on the calendar. I’m happy that it’s getting done. My load seems lighter as order begins to prevail.
But again, I do have some physical issues. I’m worn out. I couldn’t do this all by myself. So I also am grateful to everyone who is lending a hand. Sorting through piles is not a job I can delegate. But my thanks go out to my friends and family who have rolled up their sleeves to help with the haul and carry.
There is still more to do. The other problem with clutter is that it’s one of those jobs that’s never done. But I can take a little time out to sit with gratitude. I can kick back and enjoy the extra space. And I can dash off a little blog.