Well, I do.
In this year of turning to salute and wink at my forties as the fresh new chapter, I’ve been telling you about all the metaphysical things I’ve cleared and neglecting to tell you about all the literal stuff that’s been leaving the bodily grasp, too.
So, in order of colossal effort to nae bother, this year I/we have;
- cleared out the garage
- cleared out the lean-to-porch-cum-boot room
- had two chimneys removed
- cleared out 80% of my crafting hoard
- shredded ca. four tons of historical paperwork (possibly less)
- Cleared the crap from the edges of the garden left by the old owner – piles of tiles, slabs, mounds of chuckies and, bizarrely, planks of wood woven into the hedges. It’s so good to see these areas breathing now.
- Unsubscribed the email lists which collectively overwhelm me with ads, reminders and useless brain noise. Newsflash: the information you actually need always gets to you. Bonus: an uncluttered inbox is a thing of calm and productivity.
When I see it like that it doesn’t look like enough but alongside normal life it has felt like being in the domestic trenches, at times.
In getting rid of material schizz I have realised – with an often fascinated, semi-detached cringe – a lot of the stuff I held onto was soaked with trauma. Thinking back on that now – as recent as it is – I’m gobsmacked. What a thing to do.
Marie Kondo is right (and I’m going to swearily paraphrase here) – if you don’t hold something and feel joy, WHY the ever loving fuck are you keeping it? In my case I think I’ve been hanging onto some things as evidence of my side of the story. That realisation has lead me to really explore why I often live with a sense of waiting to be put on emotional trial. It’s a weird burden I see many women bear – this sense of being emotionally responsible for so much, absorbing shame and responsibility as if we were a mop and they were a spill, then never carefully freeing ourselves from the added weight. I’m a firm believer that men and women are not very different creatures at all but I also follow that idea closely with acknowledgement of the social contexts of gender causing us to move through the world quite differently. It’s not uncommon for us to place our feet, often unquestioningly,in the familiar prints of people who came before us and then to wonder how we got to destinations we’d have preferred to avoid.
The more I talk to friends the more stunned I am about what women in particular have gone through and are living with and surviving, often without expert support that would be justified a million times over, were case notes written up. For all that’s good and joyful, we really should question where our ideas and the stuff in our homes comes from and whether we feel truly at ease and joyful holding any of them.
Two events which really feed #Clearing40 thoughts for me are emptying my Mum’s house after her death and, years later, working in a charity shop and processing other people’s old things. Both experiences rammed home the reality that stuff is stuff – nothing more and nothing less. We imbue all sorts of meaning into a thing and then there it is, in some stranger’s hands, cleansed of the past previously projected onto it. What a gift.
We collect, I think, to document our journey or weight our value and we inadvertently give ourselves a lot of things to dust along the way. As the time in front of me seems to move more quickly I repeatedly assess whether I want to be doing or dusting and, by fuck, I am so much more compelled to laughs, or the top of a mountain, or to sit and write than I am to get down and sweaty with the Dyson or feel guilty at the sight of an old rucksack and the myriad difficult memories it stirs. I think that particularly for those of us who’ve lived through trauma, we need to make our homes an easy place to be – a place where we smile frequently and don’t reinforce things that drag our energy down. In short, we need to maximise joy. Because we deserve it too. Everyone does.
I totally understand why people who’ve retired are increasingly downsizing and ditching, swapping older houses for new builds with light, clean-lines furniture and one minimal ornament. I didn’t get it before. I thought they were mad, these people hemorrhaging stuff and deciding radical things like their one good colander is more relevant than their 3 shitey ones. Now, simpler living beckons me seductively closer each year. I get high on seeing space where once there was clutter.
In short, here’s the quantum metaphysical maths;
Space = Time and Light.
Time and Light = Possibilities.
Possibilities = Joy.
Can’t argue with science, right?