Clearing out the clutter that had accumulated for more than ten years is a tiresome process. There is an ideal way to approach it, which if followed, could be relatively painless. It simply requires a clear view of what you have, an understanding of what you need to keep, and a very good idea of what you want to do with it all. That is, what needs to be discarded, what needs to be saved, and what would be worth repurposing. Reality dictates that chances are great we won’t have that clear view of what is there, meaning we’ll often have surprising moments of ‘oh! That’s where it was!’ and other moments of ‘damn, I didn’t need that reminder right now’.
You guessed it. Life. It echoes in everything around us, but very distinctly in cleaning house. There are moments when I find it difficult to remember who I am or what drives me to be me. In those moments I look around and struggle to focus on anything in particular. I become reactive rather than deliberate, but habits formed over the years camouflage that void quite well. At moments like those I stop and reflect on where I’m at in my life and if there is still any semblance of familiarity with the path I had hoped to travel so many years before.
Do I still have a higher calling that I hope to serve, or am I just ticking boxes? As I work through the clutter in my mind I find it increasingly difficult to decide what needs to be kept and nurtured versus what should be discarded to create capacity for more fulfilling endeavours. It’s not as simple as it used to be. I can’t spurn the martyr or ridicule the complacent as easily as I did before. What used to be a consideration for me only is now a consideration of more than me. And so the landscape is littered with little troves, not necessarily treasurable, that hide important little details waiting to derail my efforts just as I gather momentum in my surge forward.
Eventually the sorting and the methodical approach grows weary. The frustration rises with each realisation that the more time spent rediscovering or reordering myself is time that could have been spent living instead. There is a lot to do, goals to accomplish, and challenges to overcome. But here I am sorting through clutter in the hope that it will bring much needed clarity so that I can pursue those goals and challenges with a renewed passion. Eventually I do the equivalent of what my spring cleaning demanded. Compartmentalise. Making a decision on every item I come across at the time that I come across it is not yielding the results I need as fast as I need it. So instead, I start boxing things into broad repositories of potential.
The easiest decisions I make immediately. That which is inconsequential I discard immediately. But too many have amazing ‘what if’ moments attached to them. Those are the ones that trip me up. So I set them aside and categorise them so that if nothing else, I know where to find that part of me.
The process is slow and tedious, and I’m constantly reminding myself of the distractions along the way that created this clutter to begin with. Each moment of mindlessness exacted a cost of intense reflection. Again, thoughts of life wasting away while I am reprocessing past moments in order to be more decisive in future ones. It’s a grudge purchase of note. The desire to want to proceed but knowing that a moment of recess is demanded instead. It’s a cycle that never ends. It only ever recedes for a few moments before availing itself again, demanding a response even when we are confident that such reflection is not needed.
The only comfort I can offer myself is that I accept that given what I knew then, I would not have taken a different path. Rebuking myself for not knowing better was always nothing more than a pathetic attempt to feel self loathing in order to validate my need to feel like I deserved nothing better. I could never convince myself of that lie. Despite the grave and often colourful mistakes of my past, I know without doubt that I only deserve as much as I invest in the moment. The greater that investment, the sweeter the outcome, even if it does not yield the fruit that I may have hoped for. But the greater the investment, the less likely the chances that I will find myself one day reprocessing it in order to clear the clutter before being able to continue living.
The apparent incoherence of this post is an accurate reflection of my trains of thought as I work through the clutter around me. My mind has never, and probably will never be free of noise, and so my only saving grace is to find a way to be functional in spite of it.