Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Luxury of Clutter (Revisited)

“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don't.” ~ Marie Kondo

Saturday afternoon I continued my battle against the clutter in my life. It was the 25th and my goal was to eliminate 25 more things from my garage. Thursday the 23rd I rid the garage of 23 items. Today 26 will be the target, and it shouldn't really be a problem. What's immediately noticeable is how much we can get rid of without making a dent.

Based on the fact that you can't take it with you, at some point during the arc of our lives we will eventually need to start downsizing, to let go of all of it. Why, then, is it so hard?

It could be worse, as Eddy Gilmore's Emancipation of a Buried Man reveals. But I'm surprised what a never ending battle it is.

When I reflect on it, I get the impression that there's more clutter in America than in any country in history. In 2008 when I wrote about this the thought I had at the time was that clutter is a luxury. It's the downside symbol of America's wealth and success. Think of the efficiencies required for impoverished people to raise a family in a two room house. There is simply no room for all this baggage we store.

Our refrigerators and freezers are so large that as much food often goes bad as gets eaten. This simply doesn't happen in rural Mexico, Haiti or Pakistan.

As a writer I have developed the bad habit of believing "someday I will use that article" or that folder of notes, doodles, ketchup labels, or whatever. As an artist, too, it gets difficult to let go of the rest of this debris, because it does glisten and glitter so. And these rocks, wires, pens, notebooks.... 

In looking back over my eight years of blogging I've noticed this is a recurring topic, and I'm at a loss as to how to deal with it. Except, as Bob Marley famously sang, "Don't give up the fight."

In the end, if we don't deal with it, someone else will have to.  What's your exit strategy?

Recommended readings: Clutter's Last Stand by Don Aslett, Organizing from the Inside Out byJulie Morgenstern. Or just do a Gogle search and fire up your motivation with whatever stokes you.

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