fills my house
that I would bless
but bless it I can't
it is too fraught
with what I've kept
and what I've bought
throw it away
throw away part
clear up some space
at least make a start
the old yellow desk
(spouse's, aged nine)
sits buried in paper,
all of it mine
Doggerel may make it seem more amusing, less frightening. But look a little deeper and what do you find?
Does this overgrown mess represent my mind?
The stacks on my dresser are at toppling height. The stacks beside the bed (my side only) DO topple once a week, sliding out onto the floor space and threatening to topple me as well. One mis-step and I'll be down, my own fault for having ignored one of the prime rules of the Bone Clinic: keep floor spaces clear so you won't trip and fall. 'Cause if you fall you'll break your hip and THEN where will you be? Are they trying to induce fear? A flutter of fear to keep me in line?
There's a reason for the clutter. There are several, in fact. The one I like to trot out is this one: we don't have enough storage space. There aren't enough cupboards, file cabinets, shelves, wardrobes, etc., so material objects just have to float slowly from one horizontal surface to the next, drifting in a papery dream through the half-light of our bedroom at night.
That's spurious, I know, even as I give it forth as a logical reason for clutter. Let's go at it from the other direction. If I had more storage space, would it make a difference? Well? Well, no.
Here's what is true. I don't make full use of the storage I already have because of my belief system: out of sight, out of mind.
This has two parts (if I can just hang onto both ideas long enough to put them on paper).
Part one: once I have put something away, I forget that it exists. If it is not in my face, I live without it, as if it never existed. Then, three or five or seven years later, I'll be going through a box/cabinet/file/pile and I'll find it and be dismayed, because there was a time when it (whatever it is) would have been useful to me, had I only remembered that it existed.
The second aspect of "out of sight, out of mind" presents a different problem. I don't know how to file things so that I can retrieve them. In a fit of de-cluttering I can tuck everything away in what seems to be an appropriate place. But the logic of that moment is not immutable. Six months down the line, I'll want to find the item. But the reasoning process that led me to "file" it has been superseded by some other quirk of mind. I have no idea where it might be.
At the moment, I have two master CDs sitting on one of the bottom steps of the stairway, a signal, in our house, that an item is to be taken upstairs the next time someone is upward bound. But if I take these CD masters upstairs, where will I put them? Since I don't ever take the time to put something away properly and immediately (see one of those points above, about not being able to find it or even remember it), I'll hedge my bets and put it on a current pile. If I take them upstairs, then, those two master CDs might spend the next two months on my movable computer table, which rolls from room to room as needed, or on top of my dresser, or on top of the little yellow desk under the window (where it would share space with the Selectric, a prized possession from 20 years past, now past its prime and due to be passed on; the Selectric is another story).
The master CDs belong someplace, obviously. They deserve a home. Maybe they deserve two homesshould they both go in the same place? I don't know. Should I put them with the written material that relates to them? Okay, I'll put them there. Then what do I call that folder?
Shall we talk about file folders here? My two little wooden two-drawer file cabinets are full, full, full. Periodically I ransack them for things I can safely throw away in order to create more space. But my attempts are too puny. So an additional stack of file folders lies on top of an under-the-ceiling shelf in my little all-purpose room. I try to label them on the spine (though I often turn them sideways and the spine is then out of sight!). But how do I label them? What title do I give this proposed folder of written material and master CD so that I will know how to find the CDshould I ever need it?
No fearful symmetry in my home. Just clutter, clutter, clutter. . And lots of muttering.
Copyright 2008 Ann Tudor