Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Surrendering to Clutter
"I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world." ~Sarah Young
Woah. I read that and I think my eyes kept going down the page, but my brain halted. The fantasy of an uncluttered world.
That sentence isn't just telling me that clutter is inevitable. It's telling me that trying to control the clutter of life is futile. Which is pretty much what I do, all day, every day. A mom friend of mine calls herself a "fighter of entropy." It's not just moms; all jobs everywhere are about unmaking the chaos and instituting order in some way. Instituting reasoning and understanding. It's what humans do, what we can't help doing.
There is a good type of ordering. It's the kind where we're ordering facts for understanding. Organizing paperwork so hungry people get fed. Bringing order to the software we're designing, the book we're writing, the data we're analyzing.
In America, though, the battle against chaos isn't just in our work. It's our way of life. We try to bring order to our relationships. Our schedule. Our homes. We try to organize people. We put structures around our lives so nothing random can knock us out of our stability.
We are rigid and ordered and efficient. Or we try to be.
But you can't unclutter people. You may unclutter machines and artwork and business models and computers, but you can't unclutter your day. You just can't.
It's something I've been learning since I got married. I can't organize my home like I organize my plot diagrams. I can't edit my husband like I edit my writing.
People and their lives are organic. Which means they're cluttered. They beat around the bush. They wriggle through hoops of politeness and etiquette. They do things in inefficient ways, cleaning the pots after the food has dried onto them. They do selfish things and comfortable things, like stealing the bedcovers at night or laying low with family when you could be at an event or party. People have necessary unnecessaries.
People are messy. I am messy. My life is cluttered. It is cluttered with my hunger, my procrastination, my insecurities about my worth, my desire to have a garden but just never having the time, my urge to be on top of everything which is fought down by my urge to rest, my spontaneous visit to a friend in my neighborhood that ruins both our plans for the afternoon because we talked for a few hours...
Having a perfectly ordered, uncluttered life is a fantasy. It won't ever happen. I can institute all the order I want, and all I will end up with is losing my heart. The more I squeeze my hand and try to control everything, the farther I will drift from all that I love. I will end up far from happiness.
Relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world. -Tweet this.
Let it go. The happiest people aren't people who are rigid; the happiest people are the ones who relinquish their need for control. They don't need things to be perfect. They don't need things to make sense. They deal with the world one moment at a time. They aren't just flexible; they're peaceful.
Let go of the fantasy of unclutter and let go, too, of the idea that clutter is bad. Person-clutter, life-clutter, is natural and beautiful. Relax. No one is going to think you've lost it. They'll probably think you've found it--and want to know what it is that you've found.
As the protagonist from What About Bob? says, "Take a vacation from your problems!"
Word count: 600.
By Liz Mallory