Psychic kicking

The fire at MPOW got me thinking about my life here at home: what if this happened to me? How would I feel if The Collection, Mt. Bookpile and all the other stuff went *poof*?

Clearly, I'd be devastated. I mean, without all those books, who am I? But the rest? There's not so much I'd be that upset about (The Boys, it goes without saying, would just have to be rescued - without them I'm absolutely lost). So then I started to think, what do I really, really need here?

For the past few months, I've done a lot of poking around at various organizing and decluttering websites. In part, it's because I've just bought the townhouse and have an opportunity to Do It Right because I'm not planning to leave for quite some time. In part, it's because of something Terry once said about "living lightly", something he'd been feeling about his life (prior to his psychic kick).

Here's where I've been looking:
So now I'm embarking on a decluttering phase in my life: looking at my clothes, my Stuff, my life. Thinking about what I need, what I can get rid of, and how best to do that. Thing Two would reflexively say "Yard Sale", but that doesn't work when you're considering tossing your calendar from 1975 (yes, I still have that - I was in 7th/8th grade and it's a record/diary of my life then; valuable to me and any biographers, but other than that it's just paper junk of value to any paper-loving insects). Goodwill? Sure, for some things.

Clutter, though, isn't just limited to things. It's also about people. What relationships do I have that are "clutter"? How can (or how should) I manage them? Right now, e-mail works best for me because I'm so drained at work that talking at home seems like too much of an effort. I feel almost as I did when I was going through my MLS program - if you can't understand that right now I'm either "on" at work or I'm turning off at home, and it's not about you it's about preserving me, then it's been real... and it's been fun... etc.. And that's harsh, but it's reality right now. During the 15 months I was in grad school I lost a number of friends. I suspect I'll lose more as the work thing gets more and more difficult. That's ok. Because those people are clutter, and the ones that remain are the true gold in my life.

1 comment:

Murphy Jacobs said...

I'm facing something similar. Because we will be moving to a much smaller house, most of what we now have will go into storage. Once the next leg in the adventure ends, we will make a decision to either continue where we will be, or move elsewhere.

What we take with us will depend on what we missed while it was packed up. While I understand the psychological and physical weight of clutter, I'm not sure such weight is necessarily a bad thing. We grow when we carry weight. I also like the feeling of abundance, of "having it" -- perhaps an echo of my parents' memories of the 1930s and of being poor.

I am pickier about what I want to keep. I'm such a pack rat (like my maternal grandmother) but over the years my little nest of 'stuff' has shrunk steadily. What once filled several large cardboard boxes now is settled into one half-sized copy paper box and a shoebox -- and some of that will eventually go as the emotional memory fades.

I depend on my memory to judge what is 'clutter' and what is 'important stuff'. If I don't see a thing for several years and I come across it one day, I assess my memory. Do I know where it came from? Can I remember why I have it? What emotions come up and are they strong? Does this thing represent something else?

Even better for me is if I am asked, I can recall within about 1 foot where the item is located in my house. For example, there is an old program from a high school play that I was NOT in, but several of my friends were -- Terror on the Hill. One of those friends was shot and paralyzed a few years later. Another I still talk with. I keep that program in one of the upper drawers of the tansu where I keep pictures. Just seeing it brings back the play, the hokiness, being 17, enjoying our own power, not knowing the future and scaring ourselves with something really rather slight.

Thus that ratty red construction paper cover does NOT get thrown away. It may not mean a thing to anyone else, but I have a memory stored there.