A Case For Maintaining A Little Clutter
As 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.
There 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.’