I had written “toilet paper” on my list a couple days ago. Today I was clearing some shelves in the basement, and discovered a package of 20 rolls.
Must have put it there in some misguided attempt to reduce clutter under the sink in the main floor bathroom, where we usually keep the toilet paper.
Clutter is a perpetual issue for me. I almost bought a book on this subject today, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” But when I read the reviews, I realized that Marie Kondo’s method wouldn’t work for me. She says to keep only those things that truly give you a “spark of joy.”
My clutter is almost entirely composed of things that give me a spark of joy. Or that once did. Or that I hope will.
There’s an entire one-third of my hanging closet space reserved for clothes that I can’t give up but I will never wear again because they are too small, too dressy, or too young.
The shoes to match these outfits take up a rack. There’s a shelf above them lined with clothes I really like which just need a little alteration – if only I could find someone who does alterations.
Underneath all the sinks and in the bathroom drawers there are piles of stuff – a leg waxing kit that I’ve used twice, expired medicines, creams and scrubs to pamper my face and feet that I always mean to use but somehow don’t.
My art space is a wreck almost every day of the year. I buy more art supplies than I need – I don’t even know what I have. I have to take a tour of my art supplies a couple times a year just to remember.
I keep broken dishes because I think I want to make mosaics. I have an entire rack of supplies for doing image transfers, which I’ve spent exactly two days on. I have a metal clamp used for stretching canvas on frames – something I did just once, eight years ago.
The bookshelves are really only decorative at this point. All those books to help me identify plants and trees and animal tracks, and to make and use herbal medicines… most of them are barely touched. Two whole shelves worth of those. That’s just one topic.
The clutter drives me crazy. I can’t think straight if everything I see is a mess, and I can’t create if I don’t have a clear space for it.
I’ve surrounded myself with all the supplies to do these fun projects, but left myself with no room to actually do them.
I buy more clothes because I can’t bear to paw through the old stuff. I don’t pamper my face and feet because I’m too busy making lists of things I have to do.
It seems that I just keep creating piles, like a squirrel burying nuts, in the hope that it will keep me from starving.
I am starving for cleanliness and simplicity.
And I cling to these objects the way I cling to my sparks of joy.
If I get rid of those watercolor paints, I’ll never learn to paint in watercolors. If I get rid of those naturalist books, I’ll never be able to name the Appalachian flowers each spring. If I donate those clothes, I’ll never lose weight and look good again. If I dump the facial mask, I’ll never get around to pampering myself.
What I really can’t stand to do is admit that life is just too short to do all the things I dream of doing. Time is not going backwards.
To de-clutter would mean that I give up on doing everything. Give up on living to be 100.
Maybe I need a bigger house.
Today’s penny is 2014, the year that “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” was published.