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It all means something

Thanks to all my encouraging and enthusiastic co-Project Emptyers, I was able to push past the disinterest (fear's best disguise) and take another thin slice off the block-o'-clutter this evening.

roseambr's stellar decluttering of The Drawer (you know the one...it has glue, batteries, and twist-ties in it) inspired me to tackle my own Drawer. And yes, glue, batteries and twist-ties--plus safety pins, a strawberry huller, a melon baller, and a set of tiny aspic cutters--were in there too. (I kept the aspic cutters. I actually use them!)

While I was at it, I completely emptied and got rid of a wire rack on my kitchen wall.

(Heh. It almost looks photoshopped, doesn't it? I really need to get on a ladder and finish washing that wall.)

Since the rack, though junky in itself, contained useful things, emptying it involved finding better places for the stuff I wanted to keep. This, in turn, involved clearing three--count 'em, three kitchen cupboard areas.

At first glance, these weren't emotionally difficult areas to clear. All I did was toss out a few of those inexpensive vases that florist bouquets came in for things like sympathy when my cat died...

...and discard that wire rack I bought to maximize space in my little studio apartment over on Hawthorne back when it and I were both cool...

...and dig out the case of my grandmother's silver flatware and clean it up a little...

...and set aside an unused bit of cookware--a gift from an old friend I lost track of after he became very ill with HIV.

Gosh, it's hard to imagine why clearing this innocent cache of kitchen clutter has worn me out so!

Yeah. Everything I own has meaning. Even the damn strawberry huller, which I undoubtedly bought with visions in my head of summer parties that never materialized. If the clutter were meaningless, I wouldn't have collected it.

The secret, it seems, is to decide which meanings I want defining me, and of those, which cannot be represented any other way than through the possession. Everything else is subject to the giveaway bag--now, or in the next pass.

The tally as of tonight: 36 spaces cleared, 44 more to go.


( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2008 07:09 am (UTC)
I Love My Ceiling More, Now That It's a Dancing Floor
You're inspiring me (...although not until after I finish this big deadline...). The other day, I cleaned a lot of yucky oil-heat dirt off the wallpaper-up-near-the-high-ceiling, and off the ceiling panels, by sweeping them with an upside-down broom. I bet if you used a Swiffer you could wash the wall without getting on a ladder.
Feb. 20th, 2008 07:54 am (UTC)
Re: I Love My Ceiling More, Now That It's a Dancing Floor
I bet you could! I had a Swiffer, but it disappeared. The package of Swiffer wet-cleaning refill pads is one of those odd items I sort of hated to get rid of, but couldn't think of a reason to hang onto. They're on the porch in a "limbo" bucket at the moment...
Feb. 20th, 2008 07:56 am (UTC)
Re: I Love My Ceiling More, Now That It's a Dancing Floor
I confess that I have multiple Swiffers, including a mighty double-truck model--they're from yard sales and discards. I think they're absolutely worth houseroom even in a dejunked house, because they're so good at doing so many things.
Feb. 20th, 2008 07:38 am (UTC)
The secret, it seems, is to decide which meanings I want defining me, and of those, which cannot be represented any other way than through the possession. Everything else is subject to the giveaway bag--now, or in the next pass.

So, so true.
Feb. 20th, 2008 07:48 am (UTC)
So, ultimately, de-cluttering is a process of self-definition. And defining ourselves by what we don't need to own, rather than by what we feel compelled to go out and buy, seems like an almost revolutionary act.
Feb. 20th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
wow... this, and what llaras quoted... awesomely profound
Feb. 20th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
We are very deep around here!
Feb. 21st, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you have picked up the enthusiasm again. The project is so worth completion. Besides, how will I maintain my onward progress if you flake out?

'Everything I own has meaning. Even the damn strawberry huller...' I can SO relate to that statement! Even if it is only holding that slight feeling of hopefulness that I might some day do what I intended to do with it when I went out and searched for it, spent money for it and then tossed it into the drawer. Sometimes letting go of that useless hope is a good thing. I can stop beating myself up about always wanting to start something and then not doing it. So, yes, everything has an emotional component but a good deal of them are worth letting go of.

Congratulations, the wall looks fabulous, even with it being less than sparkling. I love the blank clear wall look! You are awesome!
Feb. 21st, 2008 09:47 pm (UTC)
I've actually given some thought to that strawberry huller--to the meaning of it and the energy I had embodied in it. "That slight feeling of hopefulness that I might someday do what I intended to do" is actually the tip of a very considerable emotional iceberg.

The strawberry huller is emblematic of an entire part of my psyche: the part that hopes I will become what I'm not blueprinted to be ("a wonderful hostess! such a sociable woman!") by buying things I think people who are like that already have. Advertising and merchandising do all they can to focus our attention and money on silencing the whimpers of that broken fragment of psyche.

Decluttering is about not only getting rid of those things, but healing that disconnected part of your Self. So it seems that maybe another unsuspected benefit of decluttering is to subvert the power of virtually all advertising.

That, when you think about it, is a very big deal!
Feb. 21st, 2008 10:25 pm (UTC)
And here is an example of that healing that you are talking about, at least for me, I think. Yesterday I worked at the Home and Garden Show at the Expo, staffing the Naturscaping booth. The woman I was working with had her husband join her at one point and I sent them off to see the show together. When they returned her husband was all excited about all the free stuff that the exhibitors were giving out. Pens, little lights, coffee travel cups, canvas bags. Stuff like that. I thought to myself, I used to collect all of that stuff and was just as excited as he is about getting it all for "free". I have no intention or desire to get anything like that.

To support that thought and feeling I later went traipsing around the show myself and looked at all that stuff and felt a little shiver run down my spine. It was almost repulsive to bring any of that clutter home with me. The only item I brought home was a recycled material fabric bag that Fred Meyer's was handing out for shopping bags. It will work well to supplement the two bags I have now that I do grocery shopping with. Now I shan't need a single plastic or paper bag when shopping for groceries. And it felt so good to be conscious of the clutter potential of all those little give-away items. Each one meant to fulfill some lacking in your life. This process has so many levels and unspoken advantages. I love it!
Feb. 21st, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
The Home and Garden Expo is absolutely a Ground Zero of the Clutter Effect, isn't it? I love that thing, but man, every one I've ever been to has tugged hard at that cord in me that says, "I want, I want, I want...".

The freebies are the WORST. I know just that sick, alarmed feeling you mention. There's nothing about a big "expo" like that that isn't fundamentally what's wrong with our society.

The cloth bag, on the other hand, sounds great. Project Empty has finally flipped the switch in me to reusable shopping bags. I remember to take them with me now. I took my monster blue IKEA bag grocery shopping the other evening, and though it evoked a few comments at Trader Joe's, they were mostly positive. It held all my groceries--I could barely lift it when I got home!--and not a single additional bag came into my house.

Isn't it awesome?
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 23rd, 2008 10:13 pm (UTC)
What? Something new to vacuum?

You ARE feeling daring.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )



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