Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Clutter fly

Of all the simplicity-related topics that circulate through my social circle and community, I hate the decluttering conversation the most. It gets bandied about most frequently in January; you know the one I mean--

"I sorted and gave away 50 pounds of old clothes this week."
"Oh, that's nothing. Partner and I are going through our basement and freecycled two couches, three chairs, a lamp, and an armoir."
"I told my kids they're not getting another toy this year unless they give three away."

I'm not sure why this brings out the curmudgeon in me. Certainly no one thinks that decluttering is actually a bad thing, even dyed-in-the-synthetic-fiber materialists. Maybe it's the relative certainty that the 50 pounds of clothes will be replaced in time with other newer, clothes, that furniture will be drafted for new decorating purposes, that grandparents or friends of the family will augment the toy stash until the ratio goes up rather than down.

Now for full disclosure. I am the worst clutter hypocrite in the entire world. Several years ago, I gave away the most rococo kitchen gadgets I owned (electric tortilla maker, anyone?) and have managed not to replace them with anything too awful. I do keep--and use, several times weekly--a bread machine. In the summer, I make smoothies with a blender. Other than that, I've reformed. In every other aspect of my life, however, I am a hoarder. Scraps of fabric must be saved because some day they may become a quilt. I buy books and hold on to them forever because, hey, they're books. Books aren't really material; they're ideal. I have a tendency to fall for the newest organic growing panacea (mycorrhizal sprays, micronutrient soil tests) and justify it by saying "It's not for me; it's for the earth." Oh, please.

If you are beginning to see why I find decluttering a painful subject, don't tell me. In any case, I have slowly begun to reclaim my bedroom (aka the bowling alley), which has been the stash-everything-when-company-comes room for so long that the boxes I use to throw things into madly are in boxes which are in boxes. There is no organizational principle. My friend L. says this is because I am a "creative messy," a term I think she got from some organizational guru or another. If you or someone you love is a creative messy like me, please tell me what has worked for you in terms of, say, being able to find your financial documents at tax time.

No comments: