On paper, I am the ideal recruit in America’s War on Clutter. Or I would be, if I could find my paper. Maybe it’s under that pile of laundry.
I have a lot of Stuff. Some of it is normal Stuff. Drawers full of pens. Enough jackets to wear a different one each month of the year.
And, well, books. They fill 10 bookcases. (For reference, my house has five rooms, and that’s including the kitchen.) And they’re not little IKEA bookcases. They’re tall ones. Wide ones. A custom-built one that is 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide, with paperback-size shelves that are stuffed with double rows of science fiction and fantasy and thrillers. Books on the floor in stacks. Books on the floor that used to be in stacks.
That’s normal, right?
Then there’s the other Stuff. Five drawers full of computer and audio cables I might need some day. A box of keyboards. Fourteen hats.
No wait, 16. Two fell off the pile.
What? I like hats.
And that’s the point. I like my Stuff. And I like it all over the place.
Decluttering is the Thing these days. For some it’s a necessity, a real solution to a real problem. For others it’s just the latest self-improvement trend to keep score on. If my Instagram feed has more gauzily filtered photos of neatly folded, color-coordinated socks, I win.
The Container Store says the solution is organization — starting at just $125 for a “closet starter kit.” Marie Kondo says I should just throw away everything that does not spark joy, until my house is empty and my life is changed.
And if that works for you, that is great! I’m not here to dump a pile of unread Time magazines on your joy.
But my joy comes from knowing that I can eventually lay hand on a tool I use once a year. From the rows and rows of bound dead trees, trophies of my life hunting a great read. From, as happened last month, being able to haul a TV up from the basement when the bigger TV I’d scrounged from my dad died.
Sure, it’s hard to dust. And sometimes I can’t find things. But when life hands you a bag of 52 lemons, make room in the fridge.
Hey that’s a good line, I should write that down in my quote book.
Now where is my pen?Brian J. White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org