Yesterday I wrote about clutter, about de-cluttering my physical space and mental space. I agreed to clear four piles from my computer workspace last evening. Here's what happened.
First, and not unexpectedly, I found that I could get a dozen or so things checked off my to-do list, even things that have been on it for a long time, in order to avoid the piles of clutter. Big avoidance. In the past I would have baked cookies or apple crisp or a delicious pie first and felt entitled to eat myself silly prior to starting the de-clutter job. How could de-cluttering be so odious and why???? With pie and cookies off the option list and all the doable to-do things done, by midnight last night there was nothing for it but to begin with the first pile.
Resistance. What is behind the resistance? As I was working with that first pile, I noticed myself getting somewhat anxious (fearful) about tossing things. Here's a partial list of some of the things I was reluctant to toss:
-- business cards, especially artists from whom I've bought things
-- the original copy of a poem I wrote
-- several greeting cards from acquaintances or customers
-- magazine articles
-- invoices from long ago purchases
-- a picture given to me by my husband
-- several poems (not by me)
-- several small gifts from blogging friends
-- maps and brochures from places I've been
Well, there were other things, but this list is somewhat representative. Gifts and cards were the most difficult. Truth be told, I still have almost all of them. Why? Yes they mean something to me as symbols of the fondness people have for me. But why do I need the symbols? I know these people care.
I think I know what it is. I think it's fear of forgetting... forgetting the person, none of whom (except my husband) are in my immediate circle of friends, some of whom I've never met... forgetting who sold me something I might want to buy again... forgetting where I filed the typed version of a poem I wrote... forgetting the information I learned from an article in a magazine... forgetting poems I read a few times and liked.
My mother has dementia, rather seriously, which began when she was about my age. She covered it well for many years, but as she reached her 80s, it became more and more obvious as she'd grope for words, make up stories and flat out admit that she could not recall. I've noticed a slow progression in that direction in myself as well, starting when I was about 50, when I became increasingly unable to recall dates, times, numbers.
I don't want to forget about the people in my life. And there have been a lavish of them as I've traveled all over the country to teach and developed many precious and lasting but distant friendships with students and other artists. Then there are blog friends, hundreds of beaders, quilters and other types of artists with whom I've shared so much. I don't want to forget any of them. I don't WANT to forget anything. Yet it happens every day.
Perhaps my reluctance to deal with the piles has something to do with fear of forgetting some of these people and things. If I clear the clutter by filing these reminders in boxes in the attic, they'll be as good as forgotten, for I know I'll never look in the boxes again. I know this because there are already boxes like that in the attic. They came when I moved here 13 years ago and have never been opened. Therefore, my choice seems to be: either throw away these things or leave them in piles of clutter in my living space.
Either way, my fear is reality based. Alas, I will forget some of them whether or not I keep the physical reminders.
After two hours, the four stacks of stuff around my computer was reduced to one small pile. Many things were tossed or put in recycle. A few things got moved to existing piles in other rooms for attention later. It feels great to sit here typing at my computer with empty counter space and the chair nearby which is no longer a "shelf" holding a 2 ft. pile of papers.
I didn't do any more de-cluttering today in the physical world. But this post will help me in the future, let's say tomorrow as I attack the clutter on and under the kitchen table.
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Today's gratitude: wool sweaters, chickens, good neighbors, doing home improvement projects with my husband