By Amy McCollom
I opened the window and a sudden breeze of cool air, like a morning rush of chickens springing from an opened hen house door, scattered the newspapers that had been laying on the coffee table. Just one more thing to pick up. Being stuck in the house was starting to get to me. I am tired of cleaning and cooking and watching television. Oh, how I long to see a different scene other than the five rooms that I claim as my castle.
It is a cluttered castle, at that. Like everyone else I know, I have way too much stuff. All these things! Do I need a bigger house? Or less stuff? Or both? Probably both. Things just accumulate, though. You get attached to stuff, and you don’t even know why really.
I wish I could be a minimalist. It would make me feel so free to be able to clean my whole house in ten minutes. But that could never happen I’m afraid, and that makes me a little sad and depressed. My family would never embrace the concept of minimalism. Everyone would have to be onboard with it for it to work. I have my own attachments to stuff too, though. I wish I could embrace the concept. I really do. I hate clutter.
Being stuck at home has certainly made me realize some things, even more than just the stuff. The kids are getting bigger and take up a lot more room on the couches. They apparently do not understand that dirty socks do not go behind the couch. The dog owns too many toys with the heads chewed off of them. The bird knows my voice and chirps for me to come talk to him. We use a roll of toilet paper every day when everyone is home. Someone has drunk all of the saved apocalypse water we had saved. I still have not tried the Dr. Pepper baked beans. As hard as I try, no one abides by the three-meal-a day schedule.
I have a craft workshop (aka – hide away) down in the basement. That is where I make my sock monkeys, owls, and other stuff. I’m not great at any of it, except maybe the sock monkeys. I finally decided that I need to part with about 90 percent of the stuff down there. I might still make some sock monkeys every once in a while, but I would be kidding myself if I thought I was going to do every craft I had started. It’s time to lighten my load. It would take me 20 years to finish all of those crafts. I don’t have the time or talent to do that. Plus there are spiders down there.
Not only am I going to sort, donate, toss the excess down in the workshop, I am going to go through the entire house and do the same. That’s the plan. I have finally faced the reality of being truthful with myself. Am I going to read all of these books? No. I do not have time for it. Am I going to wear all of these clothes? No. Am I going to use all of these dishes? No, no, and no. This isn’t just a spring cleaning. This is going to be a “life” cleaning.
Why do I need two pairs of hiking boots? Four pairs of flip flops? A bathing suit from 2003? Why do I have a duck call? How many slingshots does a family need? We have three compound bows? Why? I still have a skateboard but I could break a hip. Probably should get rid of that, eh? Decrease and declutter. It will free up my time and give me room to use my new hula hoop.
Digital decluttering. What about contacts of people I don’t remember? Email? Music I don’t listen to? Tivo shows I am not going to watch? I want to do cleaner things. More active things. Healthier things. Giving things. Teaching things. Loving things. Decluttering things. Real things.
Then my house won’t be the focus and frustration of my mind. It will be an empty canvas for all the clean and pure and lovely things that we can enjoy, use, pass along. Not accumulate. If there is anything I have learned during this whole crisis it is this: things don’t make you happy; people do.