My friend Candace asked me an interesting question Friday night. She was talking about helping a new friend de-clutter and mentioning that this woman’s house really DID need some decluttering. I replied back that lately I once again felt an almost biological urge to go through my house and life and get rid of more stuff.
Now many of you either don’t know me, or haven’t been to my house, so this may not strike you the same way as it struck Candace, one of my closest friends. Because I am the anti-matter girl, as it were – I truly believe that we don’t own stuff, it owns us, and so I’m always seeking more freedom through less stuff. And my house, while reflecting my great love of art & books, is fairly minimalist now (though not severe or spartan by any means! I LOVE beauty!).
So Candace said “You’re already clutter-free!” and then asked me the interesting question:
“What do you think is behind that desire for less clutter?”
I found the question interesting in several ways:
- In and of itself: so what IS behind my anti-clutter stance (for me)?
- Does there have to be anything more to it than what it is? Why isn’t my desire to eliminate things I don’t find useful or beautiful enough at face value? Was Freud right? (“sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”)
- How does this reflect our different values?
- How is her question and my response to it reflective of our differing world views?
1. What’s behind my anti-clutter views? Wow – as is true with any question this could just go on and on. I could talk about my Dutch-Norwegian father who was always chiding us to tidy up and who would clear our kitchen counters of even things like toasters in his quest for order. I could say that clutter and my ADD-like brain are inimical to one another. I could say that I crave beauty and clutter seems distracting and non-beautiful to me. But I think the truest statement is the one I made above. I like freedom and having stuff to attend to or that distracts me lessens my freedom & mobility. I don’t like it.
2. Does there have to be a meaning? While you would think my answer on this is ‘no, of course not’, actually I do think if we dig a bit more deeply we can usually see that our attitudes, predilections, etc. emanate from some part of our lives or our history. And while that’s true I think it can be too self-focused and ultimately not productive to spend too much time on such things unless they meet these criteria: a) the behavior/desire in question impedes our spiritual, emotional or physical well-being or growth; or b) the behavior/desire greatly enhances us – and we want to discover what there is about it, at core, so we can find more of that ‘suchness’ in other areas of our lives.
3. How does Candace’s question reflect our different values?
4. How does Candace’s question reflect our different world views?
I have some opinions on those two question – but it strikes me that writing about what I think my friend’s values & worldviews are is presumptuous at best. So we’ll see if she agrees to the game I’ve proposed – that I interview her for the blog and present those as the companion piece to this.
I think that’s one of the things that makes life fascinating, yes? That we all see things differently, and yet that there is this thread of commonality. I’m quite curious about Candace’s answers. But even if she doesn’t feel like expounding on them publicly (I’m pretty sure she’ll tell me at least!), I’m grateful for the opportunity to think about her question.
And I’m still itching to start going through closets and drawers and (my winter project), the basement once again. One nice thing is that as you keep winnowing, it gets easier and faster – and any sense of incipient loss or “I might need this” gets obviated by the facts – I’ve given away/thrown away/donated so much stuff in the last 8 years (the upside of being single) and no bad things have happened. The only thing I got rid of that I had to repurchase was some fishing line I used to hang up a glass ornament in my window. I think it cost $5 to replace. New fishing line: $5. Less crap in my basement toolroom: priceless.
What’s your take on:
- good questions
- the value of introspection; and/or
- differing world views
I really want to know!