Thoughts from the front line in the battle against entropy
(journal entry 2018- republishing for a self reminder!)
As a young mom and a pretty freshly minted keeper of my own home, I did the best I knew how. But there are things about keeping house beyond the chores that I wish I had understood. In writing this article and any future articles, I will keep my younger self in my mind’s eye and try to think of what I might say to her.
Oh Dear Me,
You look around at your stuff in your home, and you love all of it, and… you loathe the mass of it. So you practice a big shuffle game. You keep getting more bins to stack the things, creating more shelves to store the things.
You’re not exactly spending a lot of outright cash on this precious stuff. A lot of it is passed to you from a friend or a bargain deal find. Much of it is carefully saved cast off stuff.
You have a problem of identification. You identify with the items. You even use them to define yourself. “How,” you ask (a bit miffed), “am I possibly forming an identity by saving all the used tissue paper, empty pickle jars, half used math workbooks, and crayon stubs?”
You are making a subconscious statement about yourself. It’s probably a really positive statement. These statements might sound something like this.
I am frugal. I am not wasteful.
I know a good deal when I see one.
I reuse everything and save resources (financially, ecologically).
I’m a problem solver- something will happen that I may be able to use this for.
I plan ahead. I’m always prepared.
I can help others by gathering things others might have need for.
I see the potential in things that others don’t.
I see beauty in ordinary things.
I can find uses for anything.
I can make something with that.
I’m good at collecting things. I can see the history of things.
Things help me experience feelings and memories I associate with them.
I have unique tastes that can’t be mass produced/ sold in stores.
But then, why do you feel so BAD climbing over the wreckage, having the bins and crates and shelves wall to wall to wall?
These identity statements were a sampling of mine from years past. Others may have different statements about themselves in connection to their things. It’s important to reflect on those thoughts and objectively examine them.
Believe it or not, you are narrating about yourself in connection to things- you are putting your faith in the material things of this world. You probably will scoff at this, younger me, because you know you aren’t rich and don’t feel like you have much. But the clutching of the bits and bobs, and the self identity you hitch to those loose ends? This is literally what it means to have faith in material things.
None of your subconscious identity statements are bad, per se. You just have to admit that you can be all those things without clinging to the physical stuff. You already know the truth, that it’s all going to burn in the end, that it’s just stuff. You just haven’t yet come to the point of disengaging who you are from the keeping of it.
So look around at what you’re keeping, and maybe jot down why you feel attached to it. What does that particular stack of bins or mix of parts or box of things mean to you- what aspect of you are you associating with it?
Then realize that your stuff doesn’t define you, that more things will come and go. You can be secure about who you are without the things! Recycle the old maps that you’re never actually going to make a collage with, throw out the pillowcases with holes that you will never make into doll dresses, donate the books you can borrow from the library anyway. And know that you are STILL resourceful, creative, unique, and intelligent. It wasn’t the stuff that made you so.
We’ll talk again soon.