One of my sons was a pack rat when he was young. His possessions accumulated and he was vehemently opposed to getting rid of just about anything. It was usually not worth the battle to push him, so his room gathered more clutter and shelving as his collection of things grew.
At age nineteen he left for Mexico to be a Mormon missionary for two years. He partially cleaned out his room and left for the airport with only the bare necessities that a missionary would need....and that was not much.
When he came home he could not tolerate any clutter. He complained that there was too much stuff in his room (left for him by yours truly) and that he could not think with all of it around. As a mother I thought "aha...at last he has seen the light...." and breathed a sigh of relief! But in the back of my mind I recorded the incident and noted that I might benefit by watching how clutter affects me.
Yesterday I finally forced myself to clean up the sewing area in my office. I am pretty good about keeping my office desk in order, but the rest of the room needed work. Projects were piling up and getting buried. I could not even remember what was at the bottom of the stacks! I discarded things, sorted things, reorganized storage, put things away and cleaned. When it was done, I looked around and realized that I felt different. And I could think. The lack of physical clutter also freed my mind of stacked ideas and worries. I felt lighter and happier.
I remembered my son's experience and pondered it. For me, cleaning my sewing area is viewed as something that is in my way; there are more important things to do, such as planning a new project and doing that. I just don't want to take time-out to control the gathering mess. Oh, I think, not now...I am having too much fun...or I have to hurry and get this done first....or, I don't know where to begin and I am tired just thinking about it...and, finally, I feel guilty, and then I try to ignore the problem. I think, I can always do it later; memory will take care of where things are, and what needs to be done. It always worked when I was younger!! And then comes the day when I just can't stand the it anymore. Hopefully it is small enough mess to tackle in one day. Cleaning spurt time!
You know, I tell myself, you think you might feel like this more often if you put things away in a timely matter instead of just setting them aside in a pile for later??!! DUH!!! And so it goes. Once again the spurt is over and it's time to try to improve my behavior.
Controlling clutter needs it be addressed on a regular basis, and that takes discipline. Yesterday I was reminded of some tricks to help. I will list them...
1. Make sure everything has a place to be stored. Maybe some things will have to be discarded in the process of making space. If something sits out for a long time, perhaps it does not have a home.
2. Many years ago I was in a book discussion about the book Everyday Sacred by Sue Bender. She needed to clean her art studio, and it was a very big task. She discovered that it helped to assign herself a certain amount of cleaning time each day instead of focusing on what needed to be cleaned. For example, a person might decide to devote 30" each day to sorting/cleaning basement clutter until the task is done. I really like this idea. Kind of like practicing a particular section of music each day with a timer.
3. During this same meeting a mother who had raised many children gave some wise advice. She learned that when her children were young she could usually count on having about 10" to do a task before she was interrupted. She figured out what she could accomplish in 10" and worked/cleaned that way. Better to chew off small bites on a regular basis then to try to woof it all down at once...and sometimes it's the only option!
I think we often accumulate clutter in our spiritual lives and don't address it. The clutter might be busy-ness that distracts us from the most important things in life, such as our families and our personal relationship with God. Maybe we do not even believe in God anymore because we have cluttered our lives with activities that seem more fun or important. Hopefully we address the clutter before something drastic happens that refocuses our attention...
Well, this was a long one. I think I had better stop!
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