Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Contemplative de-cluttering

Yesterday and today were good days. Yesterday I overhauled the living room and dining room -- packed up one bin of stuff to get rid of and one to put downstairs, moved some stuff around, cleaned off a bunch of surfaces -- God help you if you're a reasonably level surface that's been empty for more than three and a half minutes in my house. We have a terminal surfeit of crap in this house. The biggest problem is probably all the damned books, which require damned book shelves, which take up space where other stuff should go, which results in a chronic plague of... other stuff. You can't look anywhere and not see stuff -- books, papers, art stuff, dishes, vases, baking supplies, toys... I know I'm never going to live in a show house. I know at heart we're basically messy, creative, glitter-loving pack rats. But there's a limit. At some point your eyes get tired -- they need a quieter place to rest. So I need to get more ruthless about tossing and donating stuff, less lazy about moving stuff and putting it away, and I might not be able to keep every picture Eve makes. Maybe I should even get rid of some books (Oh yeah! I went there!).

Last night was Irish dancing. Today I worked in the library and did some more cleaning in the family room, then took the kids to piano and dumped a load of stuff with the consignment store next door. Ah -- two solid days as a productive citizen. Which got me thinking about the time we get in life to 'move ahead' -- assuming we know what we want to do, the time we get to put energy and work into that, as opposed to the time we spend sort of treading water -- trying to get comfortable with who we are, healing from setbacks, dealing with the necessities of simply existing, etc. There's sort of a sense (at least I often have a sense) that only the first is worthwhile. Every time I get sick and have to spend a few days out of commission, when my kids were small and most of my time and energy was focused on keeping them alive, I feel like I'm going backwards, or standing still. And think of people who are suddenly hit with a cancer diagnosis, or people who have to work multiple jobs just to keep their families fed and clothed. I have to stop privileging one type of experience over the other so much. Sometimes time alone, reading and thinking and healing, is beneficial. Sometimes you have to look closely at the life you're living and the work you're doing instead of mindlessly charging ahead with it.

Sometimes you have to walk over to your friend's house to watch Lost and listen to the Hairspray soundtrack on the way. It's good for the soul.

3 comments:

Lanita said...

I know it sounds cheesy, but stopping and smelling the flowers is a good thing. I think we spend too much time worrying about everyone else and not taking time for ourselves.

The Mayor! said...

Bitch....oh, sorry, did I say that out loud??? My overwhelming jealousy that you plowed through some of your crap made me do it! Sigh...the guilt of putting my blinders on for too long is starting to really weigh on me!! Between March Break, Easter Break, & a sick kid home in between, it just ain't happenin'! Think I'll throw on MY Hairspray & Mamma Mia soundtracks & dance off all that guilt LOL! :-D

Julie said...

we have the same problem with flat surfaces in our house, which includes the floor. we are slobs. not of the dirty variety, but of the not picking up things and putting them where they belong variety. and considering we live in a match box with no storage, it gets more than challenging to get things organized.

navel gazzing can be good, but we often need a little slap upside the head to get us to focus on the good stuff and to start moving foward.