When Clutter Threatens Your Inner Peace

When Clutter Threatens Your Inner Peace

I have found myself in a state of existence of which I can no longer cower in denial: I am a pack rat.  

I live in a clutter cocoon.  I find security in stuff.  

And why do I do this?  

Because in our society stuff equates to comfort in so many ways, like financially or in times of loneliness.  Stuff can bring back memories of our beloved roots, back to times we felt truly happy and safe.  It can also offer a sense of nesting for a new home we are grounding ourselves in.

We've been told through every medium possible that more stuff means greater success stories in life...but now, I no longer buy it (no pun intended). My revolution with the troubles of clutter came to me slowly and completely by accident.  

Last winter I decided to move to Mississippi.  I am now back in my beautiful overcast hometown, but getting there and back again was one of the most gigantic journeys I have given myself.  Among many important lessons I learned was to only hold onto as much stuff as you want to move across the country.  That's how the lesson started anyway.

You wouldn't think all that much crapola could fit in a 500 square foot one bedroom apartment, but I am damn good at organizing.  I pride myself on my consolidation skills.  In this case, those skills allowed me to hold onto everything that ever meant anything to me in my whole life...until I needed to fit it all in a trailer on the back of my four-cylinder-but-still-lovable SUV, Alonzo.  An expedition of this magnitude made it imperative to discard as much of my past as possible, for Alonzo's sake and my own.

At first I thought this "out with the old, in with the new" attitude had merely served to distract me from my climbing anxiousness over the move.  I am a planner and an over-thinker, meaning a spontaneous move from Lake Erie to the Gulf of Mexico was causing me an extreme amount of distress.  

I started preparing as much as I could immediately.  I couldn't get the twenty hour trip itself over with any sooner, so I concentrated all of my energy on purging and packing.  A few simple sessions of getting rid of useless items before a move turned into opening a giant sloshing can of worms that would keep me sorting and donating indefinitely.

To my surprise and confusion, as I learned to cope with the separation from more and more of my possessions, I felt an undeniable growing sense of freedom.   Knickknack by knickknack the weight of my entire life thus far was lifting off my shoulders.  In hindsight I can recognize this new habit of decluttering came from a need to...

  1. control something about my life when I felt like it was spiraling into the deep end,
  2. offer my brain a sense of relief to make room for all the new information I was about to take in, and
  3. probably many other mysterious reasons because we never stop learning.

I LOVED learning that last part.  Keeps life interesting.

And now I am ecstatic to report that my simplifying skills have grown tremendously.  I've progressed in a lot of positive ways, remembering that having useless stuff just gives you more unnecessary things to worry about.  

The possibility for my life to go along any path is the fullest sense of freedom I have ever felt.

Like with any kind of progress though, some setbacks have tagged along.  Sometimes I find myself obsessing over simplifying to the point where I have clearly lost sight of the whole purpose.  

Rather than having too much stuff to worry about every time I open my eyeballs, I want to look around me with a grand realization of every moment's potential.  The possibility for my life to go along any path is the fullest sense of freedom I have ever felt.  When you don't have stuff to hold you down, you can see more clearly, and that can take you anywhere.

Take a look around.  Do you feel free to enjoy your inner peace? Or is there just too much stuff in the way?