If you are at all like me, you receive at least four or five emails each week with instructions on how to live a meaningful life.
Most of these have been forwarded from both old and new friends. These messages are sent partly because they want to share their thoughts with you, and partly because at the end of the email, there is a threat that all the good things discussed in the email won’t come true for the reader unless he or she forwards it on to a specific number of people. The threat of the spiritual void is always good at inducing action.
Last month, my wife and I were in the middle of one of our countless house moves when I received one of these emails that was entirely appropriate to our situation. The message actually crystallized a bunch of thoughts that had been swirling around in my head lately. The email discussed how your home is actually a mirror-image of your life. Messy home, messy life. Organized home, organized life. Peaceful home, peaceful life.
As always happens during a move, when you are forced to confront the enormity of the material possessions that you have accumulated throughout your life, you begin to edit, to give away, to de-clutter, by donating old clothes and getting rid of any extras that have been unused for some time. My wife and I have a lot of random items from previous moves that sentiment has spared, mainly numerous boxes of trinkets from our childhood or souvenirs from our travels. But honestly, we have no use for any of this stuff.
These things are space-takers, they’re extras. In an effort to simplify our life and create peace within a time of chaos, we often turn to our material possessions by de-cluttering.
It occurred to me that while on the surface I was attempting to clean up my home and de-clutter my basement and attic, what I was actually doing was giving my mind a cleanse as well.
So after processing how the clutter in my basement, storage unit and attic was affecting my daily life like a sack of coconuts I was being forced to drag around 24/7, I began to delve further into the de-cluttering process by looking at some of the other things I carry around—things such as thoughts and processes that have been stuffed in the corners of my mental attic.
Some of the clutter includes: the constant rushing through errands, conversations, and stop lights in order to get to the next moment; the replaying of my busy, all-consuming to-do list throughout the day; the long-winded lecture that accompanied the scolding of my 5-year-old for not listening; the split attention of back-and-forth text messaging while playing with my kids; and the checking of emails sporadically throughout the day.
Let’s not forget saying yes to a commitment, event, project, or happy hour when my schedule is already overbooked. And, of course, the worst time stealer by far: the all-consuming plan for the future that robs me of what I am doing right now.
So while I was sorting through my collection of accumulated stuff, it occurred to me that I was cluttering my life and mind each day with extras.
The de-cluttering of a home may appear easier to navigate than the inner world of mental and emotional clutter, but the two are not so different. What I discovered this past move was that my house was a mirror for my mind, and my mind was actually pretty similar to my basement.
Cleaning up and organizing both helped set my world to rights.
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One fine body…