Why all the pithy sayings about Spring Cleaning? New Year's is where the purging is at in my world.
I seem to spend a measure of each new year cleaning: cleaning projects, clearing decks, making space, be it email inboxes or piled up papers or follows on Twitter, and this 2015 January is no different. Clearing out clutter is beneficial and rejuvinating, which seems more productive for me than setting resolutions. It is like dropping weight or peeling off burdensome layers. Perhaps it's just enjoying the sensation of starting out something new -- the year -- with more space: mentally, physically, emotionally.
A lot of my clutter comes about unintentionally. A good example of this is my email inbox: in my
private email, right away I delete the things I know I won't read. But the things I'm on the fence about get a pass ... a pass that can last YEARS, unfortunately, due to my compacted schedule and constant curiosity with various topics and subjects. I just cannot seem to help the wanting to read it, and the good intentions to read it, but there is rarely time to execute on the reading. I suppose I need to become more stringent in my "stay or go" assessment. My web browser is inevitably plagued with the same condition: so many tabs open, all awaiting the time to investigate, the time to DECIDE.
"Clutter" is from the old Middle English word "clotter," which seems vaguley onomatopoeia, sounding very much like what it is: untidy and choked. Pushing out the old to make room for the new reminds me of where I've been (a chance to consider lessons learned) and allows me to course-correct for where I want to go. My only complaint is that I usually don't get enough time to complete all my un-cluttering, since some of the projects (like my email inbox and I have more than one email) can take hours for a sifting. I do what I can with the time I have; sometimes intention counts as much as effort.
At halfway through a cross-country move (half my stuff is with me, half remains in storage), purging has already been something of a necessity. Moving will make one reconsider most belongings, if one has the time to do it before everything goes in a box. (Full disclosure: I was in a bit of a rush to get moved, new job and sold house and all.) While learning to live with half of what I have has not been fun, it's been informative. When the time comes for the other half of my stuff to arrive, I fully expect to cull some measurable percentage of the stuff ... since I likely don't need many things that have been stored for five months.
Also, I have read that clutter can be tied to emotions, and I would not be surprised to learn that my 'nesting' need (and its associated clutter tendencies) is well-bound to my sense of self, of home, of safety. I create a haven for myself amidst my things. While the tiny house movement has charmed me, I know that eliminating my library or getting rid of my piano keyboard and other "non-essentials" would not be magical keys to happiness for me; I would feel exposed and empty and not myself. So I embrace some measures of my clutter as personality expression -- the books, the plants, the candles -- and I save the pruning shears for stale email and leaned Twitter feeds. Einstein's quote inspires me as I go: "Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
I am surprised, though, at some regrets as I cull: places I found compelling but have had to let go (Burlington, VT, chief among them), interests or hobbies that just cannot come to fruition, people who have fallen out of touch. It all feels like closing doors, but it is on stuff that must be released and cleared away, to make room for the places and activities and people that *will* be relevant and compelling. In this new year, this new life.
So, here's a cheer for clean floors and cleared spaces! Welcome 2015!