Coping with Clutter

We’re already into a new year and what with the tradition of resolutions and all, I feel like I should perfunctorily make a change or two.  A smidgen of guilt has set in that I haven’t already done so.

It’s obvious that dieting is one of the first things we think when making resolutions.  Given the multitudinous ads in January, for diet aids, we’re kind of smacked in the face that we’ve been gluttons.

Diet commercials drive me crazy.  Do people really fall for the sip of liquid at bedtime that has supposedly enabled thousands of overweight consumers to lose up to forty-five pounds in two weeks?  Two weeks.  That’s healthy, I’m sure.  Even with clips of Dr. Oz in the ad, I’m not feeling gullible this new year.  And, the pictures of the obese woman turned concentration-camp victim, aren’t all that appealing.

But, for me, dieting is redundant and nothing novel for the new year.  Clutter, however, is always newWhy does clutter grow when you’ve decluttered a hundred times?  I’m telling you; stuff grows like dust and cobwebs in my house.

There must be clutter-fairies whose entire role in life is to deposit extra stuff into corners, closets, pantries, garages and basements.  Or more probably, we just unknowingly accumulate?

Storage units, and as the Bible says, newly-built barns, are designed to feed our craving to accumulate.  So apparently, amassing stuff is nothing new under the sun.

Even using some of the professional decluttering rules like, buy one new item, get rid of three; if you haven’t used the item in the last year, sayonara; beware of bins and baskets, i.e., finding ways to hide your clutter; don’t travel down memory lane when in decluttering mode; be ruthless with yourself; don’t try to sell everything, it will slow you down; it’s inevitable that this process will take several to many rounds.  Thus, the act of going through this process multiple times.

I’m told that organized clutter is still clutter.  And, one person’s clutter is another’s treasure.  Clutter overwhelms some people and suits others just fine.  We shouldn’t declutter other people’s stuff, only targeting our own, or shared stuff.

A certain someone, let’s call him the would-be king of clutterers, wandered into our office and saw me typing the title of this column, and exited as quickly as he entered, muttering something about becoming a poster-child labeled “clutterer,” that might be hung at the post office.  He skedaddled before I could confirm his fears with this paragraph.

Clutterers are cool with the idea that “I might need these things sometime in the next hundred years, so we’ll just hold on to them for now.”  Or, consumer-driven, they believe, “five of this item is better than one.”

And of course, I, like most declutterers, have thrown something away or donated it and wished I hadn’t.  This proves to happy clutterers that they’re right, using our statement, “I could use that item about now,” as evidence of the error in our ways.

This new-year anti-clutter campaign of mine, started with a recent dream in which I was packing up my house, to move.  In the dream, I left the bathroom as the last bastion of clutter to pack up.  I knew that the bathroom had crammed nooks and crannies that would take time to sort out.

I wondered when I awoke if maybe we should think of decluttering in terms of movingIf you should move next week, what items would you definitely pack up and take with you?  Perhaps the items you wouldn’t take, need to be dispersed now, through a sale, donation, up-cycling if appropriate, or trashed.

So, first thing in the morning, I tackled the bathroom.  Maybe it was out of guilt, but so what.  I mean, how many wounds might we get, to use all those gauze pads accumulated from dental procedures in years gone by, let alone the new gauze roll, opened once?  Are eight or ten pairs of tweezers too many?

I think the lipsticks that are more than ten years old may have been sufficiently contaminated by now, eh?  However, I made an executive decision to keep the six boxes of assorted band aids because even a paper cut sometimes needs solace from the harsh outside world.  We get a lot of paper cuts around here.

Feeling liberated after decluttering the bathroom, I headed into our office, looking for a certain file folder.  First, I looked into my partner’s file drawer of business documents, where I was pretty sure that folder resided.  It wasn’t to be found.  Then I looked into my document file drawer and another external file box, neither revealing the folder I needed.

So, I went back to the first file location to look again.  This time, I began the decluttering process, consulting said partner“Do we still have this scanner?”  “No, we sold it a while ago.”  Throw away.  “This contract is dated 2007.  We never followed through with it, did we?”  “Nope.”  Throw away.  “Do you still use these?”  “No.” “Well, then I’ll toss them.”  “No, hold on to them for a while.”

Presto.  This is another reason for my feeling that clutter multiplies and/or I’m constantly decluttering when I thought I had already done it.  Said partner coerces me to delay the process time and again.

There will be a time when “a little while” will have expired and it will be the right time to discard that file.  I know this.  It’s happened before, de ja vu, and it will most certainly happen again.

One thought on “Coping with Clutter”

  1. In the past when I actually did declutter, my hubby would take the bags and boxes to Good Will. You can’t do that because of Covid. That is my story and I am sticking to it! It has nothing to do with a continuing, profound case of ennui…😉

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