Lockdown gives us the chance to do all those jobs put off because we didn't have time – like de-cluttering. Reality check! We don't want to do them now any more than then and there is a mountain to climb because of serial procrastination. What's difficult about filling a skip? Nothing. But that misses the point. Stuff is not neutral.
I discovered this when masterminding a family rota to assist aged parents through a major downsize. We agreed what needed to be ditched. There was parental assent to let go – but not that it was skip fodder. Oh no! Things had to find the 'Right Home'. This might do Aunt Ethel a good turn, or maybe a particular charity shop – or could we (me) even sell it on Ebay? The other? Ah well .... do you remember ..... activity paused for lengthy stories about origins usually connected to long forgotten family members or sagas. None of it related to condition or value.
Finding the right home for everything was key, a process that could not be hurried. 'Stuff' carries huge mental, emotional and even spiritual implications.
Jane Brocklehurst uncovers this and so much more in her excellent e-book: 'Home Freed: the theology of decluttering.' She defines clutter as 'things that get in the way' and suggests we ask why it got there in the first place.
Lockdown has clarified a few things for me and my workaholic musician spouse. The performing arts have taken a huge hit. We went from full pelt to zero overnight last March. One positive has been more time to share ideas. We've even talked through thorny things (like clutter) that were so avoidable behind our 'normal' barrage of distractions. There has been an indefinable shift, perhaps related to the discovery that we have surprising inner coping resources and doing 'nothing' does not place you in a vacuum. Inactivity (not flying around chasing our tails) can be fruitful.
We have started to navigate the foggy no-go area of future plans, visualising space beyond the frenetic treadmill. Could there be different adventures ahead, even at this stage? Why not? And it is becoming daily more obvious what must go.
For me, writing has suffered the biggest hit, with mojo taking up residence in chains in a deep dark basement. It's not that I can't find the key – more I don't want to look for it. The smokescreen, 'I'll write when I have time', is no longer providing cover.
Too early to say but maybe a tiny spark of inspiration has re-emerged. Recent reading, including Ruth Leigh's wonderful Isabella Smugge, has given me a fresh take on what is possible. Then Paul Kerensa's course (though not yet kicked me into action) has thrown up nuggets to chew on. Is it time to abandon my two works in draft and try a revolutionary new tack?
The only thing I'm sure about is that I'm not ready to give up – yet.