The Cost of Clutter
Christmas Eve was earlier this week. I’m a procrastinator, so I left my house on Christmas Eve with several purchases to make. I live by a commercial area called Jamaica Avenue. Usually, Jamaica Avenue, like any other commercial district, is congested. But on Christmas Eve, I don’t know. I am not sure if the streets got narrower, if people took up more space with their bubble jackets and packages, or if the vendors were screaming louder to buy cologne, socks, and pocketbooks. [I even saw a couple of brothers out there selling puppies from inside their jackets (lol); but I came close to passing out. It was too much. My mind was cluttered. Invaded. Overstimulated. Buying. Spending. Eating. Stuffing. Pushing. Pulling. More. More. Now. Now. Money.
The Spirituality of Clearing Space
Luckily I caught my bus quickly and found refuge in the basic precept of a book that I was reading. In this book about the spirituality of space clearing, the author maintains that we often buy and hoard, consume and hold, and keep and store things because we are stagnant and unhappy with our lives. We use things to distract from doing the labor of reflection /inner cleansing. This accumulation of things is also an indication of an attachment to the past or fear of the future.
Lost and Found
I found truth in these tenets and could not wait to realign my energy with clarity, simplicity, and peace once I got home. I decided to tackle my office closet first. In cleaning, I found pictures of my mother when she was young, and poems that I had written while in undergraduate. I saw myself in my mother and reconnected with my former self. In their words and eyes, I saw their goodness, so I honored them by making space for them in my present. I framed their images and ideas.
On the other hand, I found pictures, gifts, articles of clothing of and from former lovers and friends. We took one last stroll down memory lane, and without malice, we finally parted. I threw these items out to free myself from holding on (literally) to a fossilized reality, so that I could make more space (literally) for the new unknown.
Mass Media and the Myth of More
In clearing my space, I found solace. I found myself. With less, I saw what was most important to me. What mass media and their perverse money-making machine try to convince you is that you need more to be. Be somebody. Be complete. They clutter your mind with sleight -of-hand images of false importance, status, and happiness so you would not be able to think critically about your individualized standards of success and happiness–which fundamentally may require little material acquisition — (i.e. human connection, health, life learning, travel).
So you may be the queen of bargain shopping. Have enough stuff to clothe a small village in Antigua but want to reconnect with yourself in a serious way? Try these baby steps toward a clutter-free mind and space:
1.Set a date for one room at a time. Cleaning a small cluttered area first will give a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to continue.
2. Set the mood. If you want a quiet reflective session or a loud, high-energy session, choose the appropriate music, timing and clothing (sometimes I like to clean with lipstick and a cute skirt).
3.Get that girlfriend that has no problem telling you the truth and start throwing stuff out. If you have been having trouble saying “no” to a salesperson, you probably would not be able to let go without help.
4.Create four basic piles: charity, garbage, keeping, and yard sale. This diminishes the sense of being wasteful. Not only will others benefit from your good will, you may be able to recoup some of your financial losses as well.
5. Let it out. You may find yourself in a less than pleasant mood, sad, or angry. You may even want to cry. Do so. Cleaning for the sake of clarity is a confrontation with (conceived) loss. It’s a natural part of the grieving process.