Boy, you’d think it would be easier to define clutter than it seems to be, wouldn’t ya? At least I, for one, am having to ponder this a bit. F’rinstance, if nobody ever kept anything, we’d not have wonderful antiques to drool over. I think of the beautiful carved oak newel post that my parents just threw on the trash pile when they redid the stairway. And the dark, heavy Victorian buffet they replaced with some sort of cheesy glass-fronted display case-like thing. We had a lot of old Victorian things that I grew up with that just sort of got dumped when they "modernized."
All of this is by way of suggesting that, to paraphrase, one man’s clutter is another man’s treasure. It all comes down to value, doesn’t it? What do we value, and why?
I grew up in a family where the adults had weathered some difficult times, from around WWI through the Great Depression to WWII, and whether it was in their character or through their experiences, I don’t know, but I learned not to waste things. I’m not a very good member of the consumerist society, I’m afraid.
Something I seem to do is invest articles with consciousness of a sort. I was reading a book about a woman who was cleaning out her mother’s house and just dumped several ceramic statuettes that were poorly made and valueless and I felt sorry for those items! I mean, they were in a book, not even real! And yet, I felt that as imperfect as they were, they were the best they could be within the limits of their abilities, whatever those might be, and they didn’t deserve to simply be discarded as if those efforts didn’t matter. Sheesh!
So, am I a clutterist? Or am I conservative? Do I appreciate workmanship, even when less than perfect, or do I just figure there will be more where that came from?
Obviously, I tend to save, to conserve. Still, there are some things that truly are meant to be discarded, like old utility records from the house in town that I sold 10 years ago and flyers that I get from certain companies (though I gotta admit that I use them for printing if they’re only printed on one side).
Use it up, make do, or do without. I learned that well, maybe too well.
One thing I did in order to not be wasteful was to donate my business suits and such to local churches so they could be used by homeless women who were job seeking and needed to look the part they were applying for. That uncluttered my closet but there’s not always an option like that. I still have an old handmade chenille bedspread that my first husband and I got in the Blue Ridge Mountains before we were married and even though he’s been out of my life for over 40 years, I still keep that thing. Why?
That’s what garage sales are for. And yet…
Whether something is a cherished item or something that once was but that has lost its purpose is a personal and individualized choice and not always an easy one to make, it seems, since so many of us tend to accumulate clutter.
Does our outer life clutter reflect our inner/spiritual life? Again, I s’pose that is an individualized thing. I know that over a decade ago all the information I’d amassed from voracious reading about spiritual growth and transformation was just a pile of information that left me confused. Once I took courses in transpersonal studies I became more able to organize it. Obviously, at least I am one person whose outer and inner life were/are in some respects congruent.
I don’t know how many of us can live the Zen(?) concept of less is more and have a nearly bare house, though I have to admit that I do feel free and expansive when I’m in a space that isn’t cluttered. Which is not my house, unfortunately.
Maybe it just comes down to noticing that we’re noticing clutter. When we notice it, it’s a sign it needs to be attended to. Could that be the secret? Just being aware and then doing something about it once we are?