Semantics. Tomato/Tomahto. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. I guess that one hits the nail on the head.
Some folks are what I call minimalists. My friend Jo is one. She visited this week from sunny Florida, just in time for the chilly monsoon season. She was brave, however, and donned a hoodie and jeans and mustered through.
She stayed with me while here. The night she came in, I didn’t think too much of it. I’ve nearly abandoned the traditional thought of having to clean when company is coming over. This is how I live. If you don’t like it, you can move on….said with a smile and no ill will. I do believe it’s true that visitors here to see you and not your house. Besides, what’s the worst? They will leave and say, “That house was messy.” OK. So it is. What’s your point?
I’ve written before of my messy house. You get it, and I feel sure you don’t care. Nor do I, it seems. Jo does, however. She offered to help me clean while she was here. She has tamed down from the time when she just jumped in and started washing my dishes. Down!
They say, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” The problem, however, is when you have more things than places. What then?
A minimalist like Jo would say, get rid of this junk! But I can’t bear to part with most of it, and I’m not quite sure why. Is it some sort of safety blanket to keep things close that I hold dear? Indeed these things give me satisfaction. I love having people over to my sty and showing them my stuff and recounting the story that each one holds.
I asked my friend Google about the psychology behind my unwillingness to part with stuff. The first thing that came up was an article about how to let go of stuff. How condescending of Mr. Google and Mrs. Internetwebdotcom to assume that I even want to! I just wanted to know why I am this way, not how to change myself. The nerve!
Upon reading, it seems that researchers believe the amount of stress you feel at home is in direct relationship to the amount of stuff you have sitting around. Oh contrare! I feel quite happy at home, thank you. They assert that women (why just women?) whose houses are cluttered feel more stress, have poorer marriages, and have a greater incidence of depression and fatigue. I have to wonder if this is a causal relationship. Maybe depression and fatigue and a bad relationship are WHY these folks have given up on cleaning, not the messy house causing these things. Just sayin’.
It also said the woman or wife was more affected by the clutter than the husband. Further, the article goes on about how these slovenly habits are passed onto our children. No doubt about that. I have one neat and tidy child and he’s busting out of this joint ASAP, thanks to college. I am certain his dorm room will be spick and span and feel sorry for his roommate.
If I’m honest with myself, I will concede that not all of my junk has a sentimental value. Some of it is just stuff. I work on a rewards system, however. Allow me to explain.
I tend to look at random stuff and ask myself if I or someone I know will ever have use for it. If the answer is even so mildly positive as a, “Well….maybe,” then I keep the stuff. I generally tell myself it isn’t costing me money to keep something, but it might well cost me something to replace if I throw it out. The reward is the rare, albeit, time when someone needs something obscure or random, like a Viking helmet, and I can proudly announce, “Look no further! I’m ya girl!” That triggers the rewards center in my brain, and I keep chasing that high when I attempt to clean.
Yeah, who needs a psychology article? I got this all figured out.
Further, I experience the “reward” feeling in other ways. Have you ever been going through some old stuff and found something awesome? When my father passed, there was a mountain of papers, pictures, and just STUFF to go through, but oh, the treasures we found! And yes, I kept nearly everything. I don’t see myself regretting it either. After all, I can always get rid of it later, but once thrown away, you can never get it back. And again…my storage in my house is free. I imagine the gratitude my descendants will feel when they ever go through this stuff. Won’t they be grateful to have it all?
Perhaps not. You never know. I might be raising come closet-minimalists who will be cussing Grandmaw for her clutter. That’s the thing, though. I don’t see clutter. I see memories and stories. I even kept a grocery list my mother wrote because it was in her handwriting.
Admittedly, I might have a problem. So where does one draw the line? Well, it’s my house, so I suppose it is mine to draw.
Funny co-inky-dink that I was writing about my messy house tonight. I just sat with the middle boy on the edge of his bed. “Talk-time” we call it. I regarded his chaotic room and mused, “Ya know we had such great plans for this space. We were going to put a pool table up here and never thought how on earth would we get it up the stairs.” He enthusiastically countered, “Yes, but all this space has allowed me to manifest my intentions!” I said, “This mess was your intention?” He smiled proudly and nodded, “Yes!” I laughed. “My boy.” I guess that apple doesn’t fall far, rotten though it may be.
A teacher and mother, Meagan Morehead Bradshaw lives on a farm in Bland County; contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.