February 3, 2010
We recently decided to replace some carpets and vinyl in various key areas of our home. As it was planned, the floor coverings were delivered and laid all within a week, so it was a major upheaval. Everything, EVERYTHING, had to be taken out of my studio, our bedroom the kitchen, and the landing outside of my studio which I usually use to dump extra stuff from everywhere else.
I have to say here that I have been systematically decluttering for years, always with an eye to a future house move. But seeing the bare bones of those rooms again after 20 years of accumulating things, even useful things, was a revelation. And it made me vow to never ever pile it all full again.
This has required a different kind of decluttering; I am convinced that if it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right. I’ve had every single book I’ve dragged along from continent to continent over the last 40 years in my hand, and I posed the question, ‘Would it break my heart to let go of this’. If the answer was,’No’. Then it went into the give away/sell box. If I wasn’t sure, then it went into storage in the attic until I could make up my mind. Entire identities pass in front of one’s eyes when one does this. It takes time, a sort of inner focus and energy, but it needs to be done if you are really serious about preserving Space rather than Things. Also, I admit, that occasionally I’ve thrown a book nonchalantly into the ,’No, it would not break my heart pile’, to wake up in a cold sweat the next night and go scrabbling through the piles trying to find that one book that I’m, after all, not quite ready to part with.
One sentence you really have to throw right out of your vocabulary along with the old stuff is, ‘Well, gee, this may come in handy sometime’.
If it has lain at the bottom of a heap of junk in a drawer for the past 10 years, it is Not Going To Come in Handy Sometime soon. Get rid of it. And if you discover you really do need it one day, I think you can work around it. My big temptation is to keep things for my various art and creativity courses. In that case I allow myself to keep half of the stuff and throw the rest away.
As a result of this, and of letting go my large light table, which I used only occasionally (gee I could have used it today, drat) my studio with its new white varnished wood look is like a Zen-do. Walking in there is like getting a shower of light.
Only problem is that it is so gorgeous and clean and spacious, I daren’t take out any of my paints, just imagine if I got a spot on my studio floor.
Obviously this is ridiculous. But that’s how it is right now. 🙂