Sorting, shifting, rationalising STUFF.
And I'm sick to death of it, absolutely had enough. It has been like this for as long as I can remember (apart from those careless light, and airy days on a Corsican goat farm, or travelling round the west coast of Canada with just a back pack, or any of those deliciously unencumbered adventures of my pre children days.)
My days are simply clogged up, like festering stagnant pools, with bits of God knows what, boxes of 'I really don't care what happens to this,' bags of things that I can't just take to the charity shop because they need to be sorted first. Aargh! They sit in the hallway, these boxes and bits, these bags, squat and sullen like a family of messy trolls, tripping me up as I walk by with their warty old toes. And I resent every minute I have to spend over them; I fume and cuss over the endless trails of ephemera, toys, paperwork, THINGS, which float like a miasma all over the house. Which I must sort, tidy and bring to order, again and again and again.
I'm sure you know what I mean.
I'm sure you know what I mean because I think it's the same for many of us over privileged members of western civilisation, to have replaced lives of basic necessities with lives which are cluttered and overflowing with a thousand little pieces of uselessness.
Ah! That's where it gets difficult, because actually, when you start examining the 'stuff' it can get pretty interesting...hmm remember Aunty Jean gave you that little pink box with the necklace that broke, maybe we'll mend it, Aunty Jean would be upset if we...oh! remember when you used to love this toy elephant, and I'd forgotten I had this....and so the pile of Stuff to Sort Later starts to grow.
So what's going on? We live busy hurtling 100 mile an hour lives, with twenty new things on our to do lists every day, our minds buzzing with the intrusion of phones, ipods, laptops, radios, tv's, new messages, new articles, books.....and our homes are groaning with the presence of things that we think we need, but can't cope with.
Because we really can't.
It's driving us all crazy.
It's driving some of us crazy because we can't have it and we think we need it, and its driving the other half of us crazy because we have it and we have to spend so much of our lives tending it, polishing it tidying it, worrying about it getting stolen, fretting about what happens to it when we die.
Do you know what?
It doesn't matter what happens to it, because when we die all we take with us are our beautiful spirits, and we leave all the tat and rubbish behind. So why don't we spend more time adding lustre and beauty to those instead? Here's some ideas:
- We could stop buying things we don't need. You know what I mean, I don't mean sit in a bare room eating just potatoes, (although right now that sounds pretty appealing) I mean stop before you get your wallet out, and pause...will I be using this in 6 months time? Does it serve a purpose...do I NEED it? You've probably already got three at home, check first.
- Stop doing, and just be, at least once a day, plant your feet on the ground and feel part of this earth, remember your body, wriggle your toes and remember they're there. We're all beautiful and shining inside, we don't need all the material crap to hold us up. Feel the beauty, of yourself and the world.
- Yes, I'm coming to get rid of the rubbish, but here's the bit I find hard. Decluttering is very fashionable and feels good, but don't start buying again to fill in the lovely serene spaces. Things have a very sly habit of creeping in insidiously, and all those charity shops make it so easy to pick up a bargain, and quickly offload another brimming sackful. They actually encourage us to see objects as readily and easily disposable, with a tick in the box for helping charity a free ticket to buy more. DON'T!
- Spend the time you have saved by minimizing your belongings on reconnecting with yourself, Find out what you're really like, journal, draw or meditate and just feel what it is to be you.Be still and breathe past where you usually would. I find it so hard to do this, surely it's wasting time, couldn't I be doing something more productive? Oh! productive, begone! Does the oak tree outside my window worry about being productive, or the squirrel scurrying past?
- Reconnect with your family and friends. Sometimes I realise that a whole morning has been spent tidying and I have been pushing my kids aside to do it, or I turn down a lunch invitation because it just seems too much. Connection with others nourishes us deep within, unlike the quick shallow fix of a shopping trip.
- Reconnect with nature. Now I realise that not everyone lives in a wood, so it's so much harder for some to do this. But try! Find a tree, a patch of wasteland, watch a sparrow hop on the roof, smile at a dandelion pushing it's way through the cracks in the pavement. We're all together, we're all unique important parts of our planet, but material possessions and concerns send us into a sleepwalk through life. We are dulled and sedated by the things we see in the shops and want, and buy. They literally make a barrier between us and our natural environment. If you can, walk, (don't take any stuff, well maybe a spare nappy for your baby if you must!) in the mountains, walk by the sea, walk in the woods, walk in the park, feel the bark of a tree, the raindrops on your cheek, the sea foam around your toes. That's what being alive is about!
We are not separate we are all connected.
I have just moved out of a very small space and will soon be moving back into another equally compact dwelling. It asonishes me how much stuff I have accumulated since my last move, and we now I have stacks of boxes sitting mutely in storage, all waiting to draw me in when I go and see them. I am SO DETERMINED to make new start and never accumulate again. Does that sound rash? Impossible? Unrealistic?
It's my challenge for the next year when we move to our new woodland dwelling, I am so heartily fed up of frittering away beautiful clear hours, days and weeks with sifting and shifting.
I don't want to die having only the shackles of my possessions around my neck like a noose. I want to fly free like a bird, to see clearly the shafts of golden sunlight, to hear the murmuring of my ancestors, to feel the rushing wind on my cheek, to love and be loved. What more is there?
Afterword: A few moments after I took the photo of Leo at the top of this post this morning, he crouched down in the grass, as I was rushing along, and said, with a dreamy look in his eye.
'Mummy stop, I just want to look at the dew drops sparkling in the sun.'
And I did. And it was lovely.