January 23, 2009


One of the projects I have been working on is getting rid of some of the clutter in my life. I am a bit of a pack rat. If I think there is a possibility that I may use or reference something again, I hang on to it. I also hate throwing things away, so I hang on to things that I think other people may use. This adds up to a lot of stuff stacked in the garage and corners of our house.

Like anything else, once you let something go for a while, it takes on a life of its own. Coming home tired from work, both my wife and I have the bad habit of tossing things down and not putting them away. Without really deciding to, we had given up on "a place for everything, and everything in its place."

It has begun to weigh on both of us. Even though we are far from materialistic, we simply have too much stuff. It is long past time to attack the piles that have taken over. Attacking the physical clutter will also help de-clutter the mind as well. De-cluttering the mind is the real goal this year and a subject of another post.

We also have lots of pictures and souvenirs lining shelves that remind us of good times and good friends. But these can get lost in the mess of day to day clutter. After a while all you see is the mess and not the jewels buried beneath.

I started with the office, which had been buried once again. It isn't quite done, but it is cleared enough that I can work in it without feeling claustrophobic. My dresser is another place that I drop everything from receipts, notes, articles, clothing, etc. It has been cleared.

Next were the bookcases. We have half again as many books as the cases will hold. The shelves were full, and more books were stacked horizontally filling the open space between shelves. I have also been saving articles on books to read, so there were newspaper pages crammed into the leftover nooks and crannies. I boxed all the books I didn't anticipate reading again and went through the articles and stored the book titles online at goodreads.com. I always love looking at other people's bookcases to see what they read and look for new authors. I am finally happy to look at ours again.

There were a couple jewels found under all the clutter. Most I knew about but hadn't seen in a while. My wife wrote a wonderful, supportive note to me when I set out on my two week bike ride from Seattle to San Francisco. I knew it was there on my dresser, but after clearing away the debris I read it again and was touched once more.

I cleaned out my wallet today. It had been growing in size and not with extra money since I long ago gave up on putting any cash in there. It hadn't reached George Costanza size, but I do typically pull it out before sitting down. In going through the cards I noticed I am actually down to the weight listed on my drivers license after so many years of lying, which is nice.

A little note from my friend Holly is stashed where the folding money should be. I hadn't read it in a couple of years. It is a sweet note from early on in our friendship and I have been carrying it around all this time. I found another note from her in my desk from when we were both feeling a little down.

These notes and the card from my wife are the things I should be hanging on to, not the piles of receipts and statements. Pictures of our friends and family should be lining our shelves, not endless articles I should have read by now. The stuff of life is not stuff, but certain things remind us of what is important. Sometimes the special trees can get lost in the overgrown forest.

The garage is the big Kahuna of clutter to be faced soon. I probably shouldn't face it alone. I could get trapped if I accidentally set off an avalanche. Have a great weekend everybody, and I will talk to you soon.


Holly said...

Oh MAN. Our forest needs some serious pruning. It's so great to find the tiny gems and get rid of the mounds af nothing! My wallet is also in diar need of the decastanza. And let's be careful out there buddy! We'd like you to live through any possible avalanche, to further enjoy the gems.

Anonymous said...

Cheers to cleaning the clutter! Your found gems are much better than this, but I found a $25 Starbs gift card that I thought was long gone when I cleaned out my running bag yesterday. It was the best latte ever!