Ridding a home of unwanted items, like lancing an unsightly abscess, can release incredible amounts of stress and anxiety. I know eww, right...? If it is true that the state of one's home, reflects the state of one's mind, then many of us have some issues with which to attend. Like the pulsing abscess waiting for lancing; possessions can quietly nag--maybe the shelf of books that you plan to read, when you find enough time, or the research from some "great idea" project, related to a past, to which you are no longer connected. We have no current plans of putting these items to action, and while passing by them each day, we can experience quick feelings of discomfort, while unable to pinpoint their origins. Have you ever seen "How to Get Ahead in Advertising"? The movie where the boil starts to take over the man's life? Well, it is more subtle and subconscious, but the "feedback" from possessions can be impressive. Each time you open a drawer or walk past certain items, your body can experience micro-reactions; tensing muscles, perhaps even quick cessations of breathing. Even though the reactions to these "micro-stressors" is minimal, how many times do we experience these in a day, with no real awareness? One's living space is meant to rejuvenate. It should represent a comfortable, safe place, where as they say in Norwegian, One can "slappe av"... take a load off, let down one's guard recharge.
Save it for a rainy day
If "stuff" causes us so much stress, why do we keep it? For many reasons, I suppose. I think we often save things for the memories they jog. Is it that we as a people are becoming progressively more challenged with long and short term memory? No, I don't think that is it. As a culture, it seems that as we have made an art out of occupying ourselves and our lives, to the extent that we are remarkably capable of having experiences, without actually being "there", without being present. Photos and mementos, become a tool to help remind us of life we have lived through, but not in. We collect and collect like an extra layer of fat to comfort and protect. We other uses which we have ascribed to our possessions. Many of us perceive that cherished items offer comfort, in helping us cope with fear-- fear of "want" and fear of "need". These stock-pilings occur in varying degrees, but done for this purpose rarely offer relief, rather they thwart our effectiveness and our ability to confront the real issues. Possessions that exceed our personal lagom (a Scandinavian term that means just the right amount for you individually) mask and mute our souls. Finally, some feel that possessions help prepare and prod us onward towards our goals. The irony, is that as a community, we have managed to busy ourselves with procuring, servicing and stressing out over our possessions, that the lives we have created are far too busy to ever use or thoroughly enjoy them!
Over the last decade, there has been such an importance placed on living in the "now". It would seem that living in the "now", taken literally could make it difficult to plan too far ahead for the future. In relation to our "things", too much planning ahead for the future, can end up looking more like stockpiling. Where is the balance? I don't think there is a cookie-cutter formula. I find remaining fluid and aware of the input my body provides, is really helpful. After all, we are unique and in being authentic and true to ourselves and families, "in balance" looks a little different for each of us. The question comes for me, should I have never obtained these things initially? It is useful to be aware of our patterns, but you know items that fall into the "in excess" category, did once serve a purpose. Perhaps represented a joy of absorbing facts and knowledge or a realization that something is not as interesting to us as we had expected. They are all valuable experiences, that we own. We have absorbed them into our bag of experiences. It is not necessary for us to hold onto items like an anxious first day of school-child, holding on to their mother, as mom begins to exit the classroom. We've grown since this stage. I try to remind myself to have faith that those lessons and memories, exists within me. They are always with me.
Once I could tap into the physical relief of supporting the present and the physical tension that supporting other time frames represented, I got into a zone. Like anything else, it is a process. "It" didn't get like this in a day and it's not going change in one day either! I now find that it is easier for me to look at an item and feel whether it supports me now or whether it is part of a longing for the past or a wishing for the future, in a manner that did no longer serves me. With this life hack, items began to flow out of drawers, closets and shelves...and into bags and boxes as if they were magnetized.
Most, I know living in this Metropolitan area, lead super busy lives, where time is at a premium. Some of this is from long work hours, but for some of us, it is because we are involved in our communities. There are many philosophies regarding how to rid ones' self of unwanted items. They are not all relevant to the busy Metropolitan. If you feel you need to reduce clutter, chances are it will take some time to regain order. My lead a busy life, and as mentioned previously I fall into the servicing stuff cycle (work to own, reduce to relieve), but I have come so far. Life for me is busy mostly for another reason. Community. My community is not static and is multi-generational. It morphs from family to friends to people in my area, etc. They are a godsend. Served up with the beauty of community is a responsibility, which can become a juggling act to balance. It does take time and can ad to life's randomness, but also to its richness. A friend who is a birthing doula communicated to me once, a mantra used in birthing, "step into the flow and let yourself go". This is synonymous with my life approach. I sit back and enjoy the its ride, but because of my connection to my community, sometimes my time is tight.
Let me be clear; what is current is always changing, ever fluid. A litmus test to take physical inventory of my body and how it is reacting to my environment continues to be helpful for me. Perhaps this test can be extended to other parts of life as well...