Decluttering Clogged Clingy Clutchers

What lies in tatters,
trouble be known.
Seeking some wisdom,
so far from home.
It’s been a long time not comin’.
A heavy cross to bear.
A long road of spinning wheels,
leading nowhere.
– Jay Schwartz (A Pocket Full Of Holes)

It’s time denude yet another myth about life with the following reality check: life is not always what you make of it. Whoever said it was was just being pretentious. Most people who are born into poverty stay in poverty. Most people who are born into middle class households stay in middle class households … unless of course they slip into poverty. Very few really ever get ahead or even make it out alive.

It’s the truth. You know it. I know it. We all know it. Nevertheless, we feign denial, shake our heads and cry “no, no, no” and desperately want to believe that ‘change’ is just around the corner or that hope springs eternal. It’s not folks. Sticking your head in the ground like an ostrich only makes it’s easier to lie down in your grave. And, the morbid reality is that ‘life sucks and then you die’.

The poor and the homeless know one thing all too well, ‘you can’t take it with you when you go’. The rest of us, however, find ‘comforting denial’ in our possessions which we accumulate to build up a fortress of sorts in order to keep out intruding thoughts and sobering realities … until the walls come tumbling down and we take up residency on skid row. (Pregnant pause) Oh, did I mention I was moving?

There is something to be said about the human condition; apparently the aim is to delude oneself into oblivion. For example, cows don’t have a pompous or ‘holier than thou’ bone in their bodies. They have no gumption about standing naked in a field, munching on grass, and dropping cow pies as they move about. Yet, we humans come along and glorify them, even deify them in some respects, claiming how magnificent it is that they give us curds and whey.

Cows, on the other hand, don’t give a shit (figuratively speaking); they just continue to graze contentedly, breaking wind and contributing to the ‘global warming’ problem. You see, cows are basically happy with their lot, rolling with whatever discourtesy life throws them … even the butcher’s knife.

We humans, however, have other ideas. We think there must be much more to our existence and destiny than what meets our blind eyes. We ponder the state of the wineglass, pontificating ad nauseam over how full or empty it is. We make mountains out of mole-hills and then lavishly decorate them with anything we can spend our disposable income on just to soothe our existential angst. We slavishly adhere to our value systems, which were most likely devised to control us, diverting us from the eventual rude awakening that we are ultimately in store for.

We cling. We clutch. We hold on for dear life to all the wrong things that serve only to clog our existence with clutter … until our backs break from the weight of our own burden.

Breaking out of the box

I want you consider long and hard the following question: isn’t it time you debunk the myth of your life? The answer for me is ‘yes’, the time is now.

For so long, I’ve tightly hung on and clung on to so many illusions about my life that it’s mind staggering. And, in the process I’ve weighed myself down with more deluded ideas and assorted possessions that I can shake a stun gun at. I’ve immobilized myself, my freedom and even my thoughts with a boggling array of dust gathering doodads.

Why have I held on for so long to so much for dear life?  For the simple reason that it’s easier to hold on than let go; it’s easier to stay put than to get going; it’s easier to stay in denial than broaden your cognitive horizons; it’s easier to fool yourself into thinking that there is a valid reason for clinging to superficial belongings, both tangible and intangible. 

Yes, there are many reasons why I have allowed myself to become a beast of my own burden. Mainly, however, it’s because in facing the sad state of my life, it’s easier to box myself in with superficiality than break my way out of my own personal hell. 

Currently, I’m being forced to move from my home of the last 12 years. It’s a predicament that has not only been thrust upon me, but also invited; a grave I am being shoved into, but also one I have dug for myself. The move itself is not the end of the world; I’ve moved many times over in my life, even half way around the world. Nevertheless, despite the reasons for this move, it has become the impetus for the dawning of a new mindset – one that may have been awoken rudely, but also one that is welcome. I have come to realize that my years of holding onto everything is nothing more than sickness, for lack of a better term, mental illness.

Gluttons and pack rats

It’s a misnomer that gluttony, one of the seven deadly sins, is actually mentioned in the Bible. Nevertheless, it is warned against by bible thumpers across the globe. The act is really more of a metaphor for any an inordinate desire that defies the order of reason, logic and sanity. It represents obsession with the accumulation of junk … food in one case, possessions in another.

Pack pack pack … shove it all in. Try in earnest to ease your emptiness by accumulating more than you can bear – as much as you try to stop the existential hunger by shoving food down your throat for that 3 seconds of gastronomic satiation until your gut bursts.

It’s sickness … stocking up pantries and cupboards with excess … boxes of cereal and cans of beans, little bags of rice and beans that hold less than even 1 portion of food – just because you don’t want to ‘be wasteful’. It’s sickness, I tell you.

For all the dry goods you’ve stuffed up your behind, you will remain unsatisfied. Constantly seeking anything else you can you shove up your posterior before you are forced to slither on your bloated belly across the floor all the way to the bathroom, ultimately affording you no relief.

The same is true of your belongings. Every stashed away item has memories you gorge on. They come tumbling out of closets, lining bookshelves, littering table tops and filling drawers. Every ‘tschotske’ is a plastic trophy, a memento of lost moments, hollow victories, melancholic mellow drama and squandered youth. Each one you cram into any crevice of your existence that oozes your inner turmoil … until you are forced to crawl on your bloated psyche across the face of each day – back to your hole in which you have thrust your head in denial of all that festers in your life.

The hands that rock the cradle

It’s often said that gluttony stems from being weaned of ‘mother’s milk’ too early. In other words, denial comes from being denied. Indeed, we are denied many things in life, especially ‘the truth’. But still, throughout our lives we are told many things that we know to be true. The problem is … we don’t actually ‘know’ anything … we just happen to believe they are true … or rather … we at least believe or just want to believe in the people who told us all these ‘half-truths’ we fail to thrive on.

Who are they? They’re the usual suspects: those who love us, those who know better, those we trust to guide us … or believe in us … or whom we choose to believe in. As such, it’s easy to see that a lot of belief comes down to self-reinforcing ‘vicious circles’ of lies. Moreover, guilt and denial tend to fuel these aberrant and abhorrent cycles.

When the invariable ‘I told you so’ eventually hits home, we break with reality in various self-destructive ways. But mostly, we beat ourselves up, and being the gluttons that we are we just swallow it up whole. We choose to turn our anger and angst inwards, rather than outwards at the ones who have promulgated these lies over the years. We are our own worst enemies and we end up digging our own graves.

Learning to let go 

Yesterday I threw out half my worldly possessions. As I dumped load after load of life souvenirs, books I never read, and important papers I had rarely looked twice at, but had all the reasons in the world to keep, it dawned on me that holding onto to so much crap over the years was nothing more than a break with reality. All the weight in the world rested on my shoulders, and I had fashioned myself a pair of concrete shoes to boot.

As I trashed crate after crate of what can only be described as the debris of the past, I soon began to feel liberated. Yes, I experienced ‘loss’ for what I was throwing out, but also regret for all the lost ‘best of plans’ that never came to fruition. So much denial over trivial things I could ‘never part with’ … so much weight being lifted from my shoulders. Like the ‘the bride’ in the film ‘Kill Bill’, first I was able to move my big toe … then the rest of my toes followed suit. In time, I couldn’t count the reasons anymore why I had stockpiled as much clutter as an anorexic loading up on Ex-Lax.

They say that if you put a frog in a pot of cold water on the stove and slowly increase the heat, it will not notice that it is slowly being boiled to death; it will not jump out of the pot. The truth is that this is a tall tale. Frogs are not that stupid … but apparently we are. Denial is what keeps us in limbo, a mental crock pot of sorts, and there we sit stewing in our own juices and hoping or wishing that the world will miraculously change around us. Meanwhile, the more we stay put, the more life dumps on us … or we dump on ourselves.

The lesson to be learned here should be obvious to anyone. Shatter the myth of your existence. Defy the expectations of others and yourself.  Stop holding onto everything that is dragging you down … and stop fooling yourself that “hey, hey, it’s alright” and that life will treat you in kind. It won’t. In fact, as the Muddy Waters character in the film ‘Cadillac Records’ says, “You and me not gonna wake up every morning and get everything we want. Mostly we got to take what come. And half the time, that’s gonna be a bunch of bullshit.”

I’ve often joked by saying “when in doubt, throw it out”. Suddenly, those words have come back to haunt me. There is simply no way anyone will ever be able to bob and weave his way through life’s travails if he is saddled with the load of his life’s baggage. Dump it, chuck it, drop it, leave it and never look back. You’ll be amazed to find a new ‘spring’ in your step, wherever you are headed.

As for me … hard times are coming, folks. I’m already packing. Meanwhile, I remain scattered to the wind … an American hobo in Greece.

 

 

Suggested Reading:

  Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back Getting Rid of It: The Step-by-step Guide for Eliminating the Clutter in Your Life (Live the Good Life) Let Go Now: Embracing Detachment

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12 thoughts on “Decluttering Clogged Clingy Clutchers

  1. I hate to admit that I too have trouble getting rid of useless ,or unused items books magazines clothes and generally everything that is called clutter,,,..every I have to throw away sth requires herculian effort..It s a disease…a chronic condition whose name I havent figured out yet…
    hooked on the glorious past..

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    • Hi Fani! Yesterday I found an old file marked “very important” papers. Inside were mostly bits and scraps of unrecognizable papers, some dating back to the ’80s that I had apparently brought with me to Greece back in 1996. Amazingly, even before dumping the file, I had a momentary pause for thought, “Well, if I marked them as important…”. Yes, you are right, it’s a disease. – Thanks for visiting and commenting here. 🙂

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  2. When my x an I moved into our tiny rent house we took only what we could fit and took so many things to Good-Will. It was a relief to be rid of so many things. Then when I left – I was forced to leave a lot of things behind. Most of what I have now is in one room aside from all my gardening supplies accumulated from my old garden center business. I have very little furniture. But I was still thinking just today that I should go through my closet and get rid of more clothes. It opens up space to get rid of stuff. It just plain feels good. Lighter, breezier!

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    • Hey Nicole! 🙂 – Yesterday, I finally went through my clothes. To my horror, I discovered that in my closet I had more shirts, pants and sweaters than there are days in an average month – eventhough I mainly tend to wear the same 3 shirts and pair of jeans over and over again! Yes, I’ve been carting clothing and now furniture off to hopefully good causes here by the barrowful.

      You know, I’ve moved many times over in my life. Back in the ‘States, beyond local moves, I had moved halfway across the country and back, only to eventually move halfway around the world. Each time ‘the trip’ was a bit different. For many reasons, this move, only a few blocks away actually, has been the most heart and gut wrenching. Yet, in all honestly, it’s also been the most liberating.

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  3. Clutter is always a problem, I often feel like the more I throw away the more I find to fill the space. Truth is though over time I throw out more and collect less. If it doesn’t resonate with me deeply (ie I love it) I throw it out.

    Then again, I think when people live far from “home” …wherever “home” is in our psyche…. we tend to hold onto memories to connect us to our past.

    We are an accumulation of the many events of our past …so am not throwing out my most treasured toys or books. I like believing there is a “one day” that I will reread my favorite book or finish some history book I love but flirt with vs losing myself to totally. At worst case it’s a few book shelves well decorated that make me smile when I look at them. If something doesn’t make me smile I throw it out or toss it in the back of the closet.

    When I moved away from the home I lived in for about 11 years I found the “back of the closet” 😦 and had to deal with those things and yet often it no longer bothered me and there’s a box in North Carolina from the back of the closet in North Miami Beach. One box… who can throw out a teddy bear holding a zippered heart box that held a love letter? I have six grandchildren, someone may end up with that teddy bear 🙂

    I am a big believer in Vision Boards… so I have a few things to remind me of who I am and where I hope to do in life. Nice way of decorating and recycling.

    It’s easier to travel light if you are going to be traveling at some point. Take what resonates, leave the rest. Or, do what a friend said… take a picture of it and let it go…

    Threw out a lot to move on towards a new life…. yet still have some tidbits from trips to Haiti and the green tall cup from a drink at some Benihaha haha…. restaurant years ago, holds some small rocks from Key West.

    As Aunt Ada said years ago… never do anything to an extreme, no extreme is good… you have a clean palette now… paint the canvas with the colors you love.

    Either way… REALLY REALLY GOOD WRITING JAY…. really good writing, one of the best written things I’ve seen you write in a long time. You put a lot of yourself into it and sent it out into the web to share.

    Love you … me
    Ps…do you really have to “confirm you are a not a spammer” isn’t that like being asked at the airport if any stranger asked you to carry something onto the plane??

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    • Hi! Thanks for your comment. I’m finally back online after more than 2 weeks of having no phone and no internet connection at the new house. Will comment on that in my next post this weekend. There are things that lurk in the dark at the back of each and every closet … old baggage that has become lost in transit, accidentally or intentionally forgotten. Perhaps this is where the concept of the ‘monster in the closet’ stems. It’s also no wonder the metaphor ‘coming out of the closet’ has become vogue. We paint the whole house … but we never paint the closet. Think on that.

      PS. Yes, trust me, spammers are alive and well and come in forms of non sequitur comments and even kind comments bearing all sorts of nasty surprises. So, yes security is security and once you are in, you are in for life. 🙂

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  4. […] I’m sure you might suggest we simply used each other in ways that were conveniently inconvenient to each other, despite our best intentions. Nevertheless, I digress. And, rehashing the past is not the reason I’m writing, with hat in hand and a brim full of sincerity. What’s past is past. I’m sure you would agree that our parting was inevitable, wouldn’t you? But still … there is a morsel of remorse for something that was lost, or simply left behind. […]

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  5. […] As for the rest of you bleeding heart ‘deadbeats’, here’s an important note:  If you are poor and live in Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota or Washington, I’d suggest you move to a different state. These states allow debt collectors to seek arrest warrants for debtors in default when other means of collection have failed. For tips on moving and lightening your load (you know, all the crap you are still being charged interest for on your credit cards), see my other post. […]

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  6. […] I’m sure you might suggest we simply used each other in ways that were conveniently inconvenient to each other, despite our best intentions. Nevertheless, I digress. And, rehashing the past is not the reason I’m writing, with hat in hand and a brim full of sincerity. What’s past is past. I’m sure you would agree that our parting was inevitable, wouldn’t you? But still … there is a morsel of remorse for something that was lost, or simply left behind. […]

    Like

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