I don’t like clutter. Not anywhere, really. Clutter makes me feel closed in, and I like wide open living spaces. If I had to live in NYC in a tiny closet for an apartment, I’d probably have a single chair, a blanket for the floor, and my computer. Oh. And a dog. A small one.
Some people go crazy for clutter, though, having the need to have “stuff” around on counters, and shelves, and tabletops. Things stacked up, things laid out, doilies with bowls with things in the bowls. On top of other things.
I’m not saying it is wrong in any way. It just isn’t for me.
I’ll make an argument for collections though. Some people have collections and they do it very well. Others can go completely overboard, blowing a collection into a massive explosion of the thing they like to collect.
I have a collection on one table in my office. That’s as far as it goes.
Back to clutter. I’ve seen a lot of relationships where one person is more of a clutter-hound, and the other is sparsely infused. My Mom and Dad were this way. He kept things on the very neat and the very tidy. As a rule. My Mom stuffed drawers to the brink. She had a “stack” on the kitchen counter that was strictly her “stuff” and she was always accusing someone of “moving” her stuff. “Who took those coupons for JoAnn Fabrics that I had sitting right here in my stack? Who?” I always wanted to say that none of us had any interest in JoAnn Fabrics, and the coupons were probably somewhere in that Bermuda Triangle of papers, pamphlets, and paraphernalia. My Dad would always rummage through, and find the thing she was looking for.
That’s the outside of things, when it comes to clutter.
There are times when our minds get filled with clutter. This is more of a problem for me. On any given day, I may have a hundred different things bumping around in there, bouncing from one thought to the next, at the speed of rapid. If I am working on something physical, it is no big deal. The clutter can hum away harmlessly. That is — until I dump the dog’s water bowl into the washing machine, as I was headed for the utility sink, but got distracted by the gears and gizmos clacking away in my brain.
Sometimes, though, there can be too much clutter, and we need to clear that space. For bigger thoughts, or higher thinking. When things are all full and tripping over one another, there is no clear space for anything else to settle down and sink in.
We try to relax at times by doing things that only add more to the mix — watching TV, movies, reading magazines, books, talking on the phone, and on. But for me, the only thing that clears the mind, and gives it open space is the intentional act of doing just that. For me, it is meditation. Mostly seated, and focused meditation. Sometimes a walk-in-nature-meditation.
I love the feeling it gives me. Tingly. Open. Clean. Good. Like a bath for the brain. And the more I do this, the easier it is to achieve this roomy goodness. Then, at least for a little while, I can see the world with a broader scope, a wider range, a softer glow. For a while.
Of course, like taking a bath, doing it once won’t last a lifetime. It has to be repeated, to keep your brain’s arm pits smelling good. So it can lift up above and reach for new heights.
The world seems a little cluttered much of the time. Giving our minds the chance to slow down and escape that clattering chatter helps us move through the fray. Maybe our whole world needs to slow down a little. And clear the clutter.
“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”
― Isaac Asimov
“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”
― George Eliot, Middlemarch
“Always hear others out and remain open-minded; the day you think you know everything is the day you have the most yet to learn.”
― A.J. Darkholme, Rise of the Morningstar