ON SISYPHUS AND DE-CLUTTERING.… By Rosemary Lord

Trash 2The start of the year always bring out the de-clutterer in people. Especially me.

Although I seem to manage a little clearing-out every weekend, that time between Christmas and the New Year is when I really look around and think “Why am I keeping this?” and “I’d have more room if I got rid of that …” I re-imagine my apartment with fresh new colors to paint and furniture to buy.

As I snatch a quick work-out on my Total Gym, counting repetitions of stomach-reducing exercises, I gaze at the bookshelves in front of me.  “Do I really need to keep all those books?” Hmmm. I pledge to remove those I am not desperately attached to. Someone else might really enjoy them as much as I have.

Total GymRowing back and forth with the pulleys in my pledge to become slim and svelte once more – well I was once, even if it was a long while ago – I turn to the side, to do side-stretches. Aha! What’s that pile of things under the dining table? Oh: more half-hidden things to de-clutter.

Of course, this is the current craze, thanks to a very young, slim Japanese girl called Marie Kondo and her very successful book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Even the kids are following her – clearly parents’ admonishments to “tidy up your room,” fell on deaf ears. Today’s kids think Marie Kono invented that novel idea of tidying up your room.  And if you’re as young as she is, you don’t have a life-time of treasures in your home, or decades of travel souvenirs or years of career-related things. So the task is not nearly as daunting.

IdeasUs writers tend to keep things for inspiration. Shelves of books from our favorite authors, reference books on what it’s really like to hack your way through a jungle, jump out of an airplane and, of course, different ways to murder people. We have folders of song-lyrics, poems, homilies that might be our next book-title. We have copies of every book that our far-more prolific writer friends have produced. And books that we just love to read over and over.

How often have we started to clear a bookshelf, and lost ourselves in reading a passage in a favorite book, only to find the day has gone and we’re in the same spot, eagerly getting towards the end of the story. Even though we know what happens, we relive the journey the author’s taken us on with their carefully chosen words. Bliss!

But where did our allotted de-cluttering time go? Oh, and you can’t get rid of that book.

Ms. Kono says we should ask of every object in our home, “Does it bring me joy?” Well, yes – my books bring me joy. I think that goes for most writers.

Pushing RockAlas, this does little for my de-cluttering attempts. I feel like Sisyphus pushing that boulder up the mountain, but on reaching the top, the weight of it pushes him down to the bottom so he has to start again. I keep starting again with my book culling.

I have better luck with my clothes. It’s easier getting rid of skirts or shirts I haven’t worn in ages and scarves and shoes that really are uncomfortable to wear, purses that no longer “bring me joy.”

A young girl I knew only kept things for six months then she’d replace them, including furniture. She had a very minimalist apartment. Besides, her parents were wealthy, so she just kept buying new things.

I even knew someone who de-cluttered her friends: She said that as her husband was signing a big new contract with a major studio, she would be ‘letting go’ of their less successful friends. That is those who didn’t live in the right area or drive the right cars – because their new, very wealthy, successful friends would judge her badly. She wanted to ensure being accepted into this new elite Hollywood circle. I guess keeping less successful friends might have reminded them where they came from – and it might be catching, like the measles or something. Of course Rick and I were part of that group to be ‘let go.’ We didn’t have flashy enough cars or live in the right zip-code. She told me the right zip-code was most important. We never heard from them again – not even a Christmas card! Of course, this was Hollywood! And they weren’t writers…

 

But back to the real world and de-cluttering. It can be a fun adventure. Long forgotten, old favorite things I come across as I open another drawer or cupboard, swiftly take me back to when and where I bought – or was given – items. That is where the writer in me thrives, as a new story starts wandering around my head.

It’s usually after a spell of decluttering that I sit back down at the typewriter – nay, computer – and get back to work, with that satisfied feeling knowing I have an empty shelf or drawer. I write away blissfully with renewed enthusiasm.

Too many booksIt seems to be true what they say: when you clear out old things, you freshen the atmosphere; your energy becomes unstuck, making room for more positive energy.

And space for more books.

Has anyone else got the de-cluttering bug? Or been de-cluttered by a supposed friend?

…………end……….

18 thoughts on “ON SISYPHUS AND DE-CLUTTERING.… By Rosemary Lord”

    1. Thanks Paul. I have since derived some secret pleasure at what has happened to them since then….. So that truism really is – well – true!

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  1. Loverly post, as always. My answer to de-cluttering, especially when it comes to books, is buy more book cases. I’m thinking there’s a fine line between a well-booked library, and a room you can no longer navigate through because of all the stacks and cases of books…not there yet, but close.

    When it comes to being dropped by “friends,” love what Paul said. For me personally, I’m such an egotistical smart-alec–“Their loss, not mine.”

    Thanks for a most enjoyable post to start my day with…

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    1. I always love reading your comments, Mad. They always make me smile.
      And I’m tempted to buy more book-cases, if only I had the room…

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  2. Terrific post, Rosie. And so far both Mad’s and Paul’s comments hit the nail on the head. I do try to get rid of a few things every year. We take things to the nearby Goodwill, but the problem is the Goodwill has books and stuff which end up on our shelves. But at least we recycle. As for friends who drop us… those aren’t friends; they’re speed bumps.

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    1. Speed bumps: what a great way of looking at them!
      And I regularly drop my things off at the local Cancer Discovery Shop – but the temptation to rummage through their rails to buy more is great. I have even nearly bought back something I donated last time!

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    1. You know, it’s probably one of those ‘avoiding writing’ things – like cleaning out the fridge when you should be writing the next chapter. Thanks Linda.

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  3. Rosemary, your terrific post inspired me to tackle some piles. I can empathize when it comes to pruning the bookshelves. I used to sort book donations for a library. I found people treated us like the pound – they’d bring in books, regardless of their condition, and assume we’d find good homes for them all, which shows how much respect most folks have for books. Unfortunately, the pound comparison extended to the similar fate most books met.

    As for your phony friends, I say good riddance. How fortunate they ‘de-cluttered’ themselves and saved you the effort.

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    1. Ooh, how sad about those books. Where can one make sure they get a good home?
      And Rick and I really did feel more free after we can been de-cluttered: they made space for some wonderful new friends! Thanks, Miko.

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  4. It’s as if you were in my head! (except for the exercise machine. Haven’t been quite faithful with that.) I’m so glad it’s not just me. It’s a battle between needing a clear space to bring me peace and needing those books to inspire me. Thanks for another charming, funny post.

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    1. Books really become like dear, old friends, don’t they? And they don’t answer back – or de-clutter you!
      Thanks, Jacqui. Great to hear from you

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  5. Rosemary, a great post, as always. I have a decluttering project planned for this weekend. One of these days I’ll clean up my hard drive and email. Total chaos!

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    1. Oh, I know what you mean, Maggie. I keep promising myself to clean up the 3,000 plus emails that I really don’t need to keep – but do, just in case…. I’m glad I’m not the only one! Happy De-cluttering weekend!

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  6. Another excellent blog. dear sister. I do hoard stuff, (not quite as much as you.) My current problem is socks. I do like brightly coloured stripey socks. Lately, holes have been appearing, just in one of each pair. Dilemma, discard perfectly good socks, or wear mismatching pairs. I chose the former, and am excitedly on ebay, ordering multi-coloured bamboo fibre ones. As you can see, I lead a sheltered life.

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    1. Thank you, big brother! By the way – in her tidying-up book, Marie Kondo says of socks that you should never roll them up into a ball – or they will roll around like potatoes and bump into each other. They cannot rest like this! So we should fold them neatly into three and store them vertically. That way they will be happy. No Cruelty to Socks allowed!

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  7. I have been de-cluttering now for almost the whole winter. I taught Sped for 20 plus years, and have so many papers and things for the class that I just don’t use anymore. It is bittersweet to get rid of some things, but I’m loosing space to things I don’t need anymore. I’very come across old pictures and wonder who that young woman is in them-I looked so young then!!!

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    1. Isn’t that a shocker, Heather, when we see those old photos and, as you say, wonder who that young person is. Congratulations on not giving up on the de-cluttering. I am still on that journey. But the new doors opening and new ideas coming to us make it all worthwhile.

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