April 01, 2017

Clutter-Busting Alchemy

I don’t have to look around to see that there is more space in my house after the month of clutter-busting known as March of Trash. I marvel at the change as I breeze past on my way from one part of my house to another.

It is a subtle change, to be sure, one that a visitor probably would not notice, but the extra inches of space here and there make a big difference to me.

I didn’t notice the way I was transforming the space while I was going through the clutter over the course of the month. During the month, I didn’t take away enough trash that I could reasonably expect my place to look transformed. It was just a few dozen items. Of course, that’s the plan for March of Trash. The idea is that you pick out one or two items of clutter per day, spending just a few minutes at a time. That is still enough to notice the change by the time the end of the month rolls around.

To be honest, I started the month hoping to do more. “It’s March of Trash!” I said to myself. “Surely this will be the month when I get the working areas of my house set up approximately the way I want them!” Alas, my schedule did not allow that. There was a major snowstorm. I was helping friends with computer issues and taxes. It was my job to write nearly 50 blog posts for March of Trash. I had forgotten that it was the first month of my running season, weather permitting. Of course, many March clutter-busters face heavier work loads than I do every day. I doubt I spent more than 4 hours on my own clutter over the course of the month — but it goes to show how little time it takes to make a change that matters.

Clutter-busting is a mysterious activity, as I alluded to. You accomplish it by focusing on your possessions of dubious value. You move some things around, throw some away, maybe crumple some up and throw them on the fire. Then the result of this effort is nothing really to do with the stuff. The result is space you can use. Beyond that, the result is a daily life that flows a little more easily, with fewer obstacles in the way.

Maybe clutter-busting is a kind of alchemy. We turn junk into empty space. Surely that’s as amazing as the ancient Egyptian trick of turning cement into stone or the medieval secret of turning lead into gold. All the more reason to feel a hint of awe when you’re done and you see what you’ve accomplished.

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