Monthly Archives: May 2010

Spring cleaning


I take pride in the fact that I don’t own a lot of stuff. For many reasons. But mostly because it makes me feel like I can up and move whenever I want to, without a bunch of possessions holding me down, rooting me to a place like a fallen anchor, buried deep into the ocean floor. It’s freeing, to say the least.

But last week, I started moving things around, making way for a new housemate who will move into the room next to mine — the room where I house all of my stuff… the random, useless stuff I thought I didn’t own.

As I began to pull the boxes and bins off their shelves, I realized the weight of my stuff was a great burden. And I didn’t like it. I didn’t like seeing all of my stuff sitting there, exposed. Normally it was all tucked away, out of view. But there, filling the room I was trying to clear, was a chaotic clutter of junk that I ultimately didn’t know what to do with (you know the kind).

And it all made me think. We humans try to look so put together and neat on the outside, so free of junk and stuff and baggage. But we all have it. Whether or not we’ll admit it, we have it. And if you’re like me, you just tuck it all away and pretend it doesn’t exist. 

Yet, I don’t think that’s how it should be.

So I started to unpack the boxes. And it looks messy, at first. But then you start throwing things away and putting things in their place. You organize and you purge until, in the end, you are left with a much smaller stack of stuff, and you realize it was worth the mess. It was worth opening the boxes and scattering all of your junk across the floor. Because the more junk we have to tote around with us, the more of a burden it becomes (especially when it affects our loved ones).

Speaking as someone who has moved a dozen times in the last decade, this “spring cleaning” is worth the mess (in the literal sense and analogical!), because every time I move, there it is: Same stuff (disappointment, sorrow, resentment), same story… stuff that was never dealt with, but was just boxed up and put on a shelf, left to move with me from one place (or relationship) to the next, holding me down like a fallen anchor buried deep into the ocean floor.  Frankly, I’d rather be free of that burden. Wouldn’t you?

I’ve so enjoyed “doing life” with a group of individuals who genuinely want to deal with their stuff. I’ve seen them in their pain and their discomfort, as they realize the stuff that has burdened them over the years and consider the weight of that stuff upon their relationships. But when they sit in that mess of self-discovery, I get excited for them. Because there is freedom on the other side of that mess, and it tastes good.