This Cleaning Out Stuff is harder than it looks
…At least for me
I woke up this morning with a sobering realization: Getting rid of a few jars of spices is not going to cut it, not if I want to empty my house of excess. At this rate, I’ll be taking stuff to the grave.
I need a plan. More than that, I need a structure that will help me execute the plan.
Structure is something I resist—and i crave. Why that’s so is a thought for another time. (Tangents are a good strategy for eluding the demands of structure.)
The thing about plans, at least those that are followed, is that they cut down on decision-making. Making decisions saps mental energy.
Exerting the will power to carry out those decisions consumes more mental energy. That’s why habits—so long as they support the plan, rather than sabotage it—are helpful. Doing something by habit consume less energy than deciding each time to do the very same thing.
I’m not in the habit of getting rid of things.
I have plenty of excuses why not:
- “I shouldn’t just give that to Goodwill—I should put it in a garage sale (or on Craig’s List or eBay).”
- “But I got that when I went to Taiwan (or India or Peru or Antarctica) with Mary (or Max or Tim or Judy) to Abner’s wedding (or to see the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu or icebergs).”
- “I’m saving these dishes and pots and pans for Max’s first apartment.”
And those are just the rationales for small things. Like I’m going to make more than $5 on anything that would otherwise go to Goodwill, or forget significant trips and people, or that Max will want these dishes and pots and pans—not to mention that there’s no telling when he’ll settle into a place worth the cost of shipping them.
I see that I’ve wandered from my thoughts about structure and habit. That’s because I got away from the keyboard for a few hours to contemplate my reluctance to really dismantle these spaces. Those thoughts haven’t gelled enough, yet, to put into writing.
Here’s one of the fragments.
I’ve been thinking, unconsciously, all my life of structure as restriction. Structure was a chain link fence that might inhibit creativity or spontaneity or even escape. Now I’m trying to picture it more as a trellis. Pretty in and of itself, a trellis supports weaving, climbing and tumbling vines as they rise above the ground while reaching for the sun.
In the meantime, I’m taking a little oak bookcase from the basement to Goodwill, even though I’m just sure I could get $10 for it on Craig’s List.