A Case For Maintaining A Little Clutter

#7a You Don't Need to ExplainAs Spring approaches  I hear a great many commitments being made in the realms of  cleaning out, getting rid of, and starting fresh.

There is large display cabinet that stands guard at the bottom of our stairway. It is a seasoned and dignified creature.  The dark ribbons of its wooden veins, the curved lines of its shoulders and its dented feet witnessed the joys and challenges of my wife’s family across several generations. Having traveled the distance of our marriage the cabinet now harbors artifacts and memories and evidence of our existence; objects – like the cabinet itself – that can be called upon at any one moment as reminders of who we are, the people we have known and what we have experienced.

Be they in a dresser, a drawer in the kitchen, a cabinet in a hallway, a box in the garage or a chest hidden away in the attic, everyone has personal mementos; souvenirs of our pasts that are either placed carefully away or mixed casually together with the things of every day.

There are objects in our lives that our souls need to save, sometimes inexplicably  trivial objects that beckon us to take seriously the feeling in ourselves that we might never have otherwise acknowledged. There are emotions and associations attached to some of these objects that are known only to us; memories, fantasies, desires and hopes that are often subtle and harbored deep within our hearts.

2014-09-06_1611There is a great deal said and written about the clearing out of the physical clutter of our lives. Much guilt is attached in our culture to the hanging-on-to of anything from our past thought to be useless or dented or old. We are trapped in an era of acquiring and tossing. But somewhere in the pressure to clear out, to rid ourselves of, to unclutter and replace, we need to honor and make room for the needs of our heart. There are the objects and things in our lives that we need to keep close for reasons we don’t need to explain; souvenirs that our souls need to keep around ‘just because.’




Fred Swan

Fredrick Swan is an artist and an author whose career has encompassed years of working as a child and family counselor, an individual therapist and serving as a field instructor at a graduate school of social work. Aware that he is one of the few people on earth who has lived to explore the meaning of their own death in the context of their life, he is currently writing a blog to inspire others to reimagine their lives. His artwork has been shown in the Northwest for a number of years, has appeared in two seasons of a television series, a movie and is in collections of people living in the United States and Europe. Fredrick writes and paints beside a creek just outside the diverse river port city of Portland, Oregon. The father of four, his art work and blog can be found at www.fredrickswan.com. “Parentheses – A Memoir of My Life Before, During, and After My Death” is available on Amazon where you can read a preview of the book and its reviews.

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