Monday, 24 November 2014

It's Just Stuff

My house is a mess, the clutter, detritus and leftover food from the weekend at the cabin spilling and spewing off the kitchen counters, into the dining room and even reaching around the corners in the living room. It seems I took a lot with me, and brought even more home. I tried giving away the leftover food, to no avail. As Mike said, "It's not like we don't eat at your place often enough, Richard." Elizabeth chimed in with "Save it for the next party."

Oddly enough, I don't mind the clutter. Years of living with my ex-wife actually taught me a lot about mess; her obsessive need to collect and clutter, her inability keep the house even close to something resembling tidy, her compulsion to fill every available counter space and surface with something or other, cupboards bulging beyond control with too much stuff. All of that taught me a couple of simple things about living with a hoarder, and living with mess.

Sometimes you just look past the mess, the stuff stacked on countertops, tabletops made unusable by collections needing sorting. Sometimes you just look without seeing, finding comfort in knowing that the mess will be there regardless of your state of mind or emotion, knowing that there are times when you must accept the mess, that there are times when living with the mess is part of life in general.

I lived with it for so many years. Then I got my own place and while I am certainly no "neat freak", I like to keep it tidy. Stuff can't always be put away. Sometimes there is stuff that you are in the midst of handling. Sometimes your mind just doesn't want to contemplate the work needed to get stuff out of the way. But I also learned something else; if you take one thing and put it away, there is less stuff. If you take another and put it away, there is even less stuff.

Being in the wheelchair and dealing with the exhaustion of ALS has emphasized that lesson, made it even clearer to me. The art of getting tidy is simply the act of taking one thing and putting it away, repeatedly. The art of tidy home is a place for everything and everything in its place. If you have stuff left over, it's time to get rid of something. After all, it's just stuff.

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