I'm seeing and hearing about a lot of people working on their homes right now. It’s a new year, and there’s another craze inspiring this work, and I think that’s a good thing for the most part*. I hope and trust that the progress people make with letting go, making decisions, and creating comfortable spaces will serve - although you can bet it won’t be static or final. Organization waxes and wanes, even in the most efficient, mindfully purged/folded/filed homes.
I had been thinking about this flurry of national decluttering activity when I came across O’Donohue’s words. They pretty much leaped off of the page I was reading. It’s tough for me to comment on the quote (it already says everything so beautifully), but it resonated so intensely I decided I was supposed to try to make something of it. So...
I take comfort that everyone’s home is "un-neutral," biased, maybe even weird - at least in some way. Mine definitely is. Being comfortable with this “un-neutral” idea seems to take some of the pressure off.
I’m privileged to be in all sorts of homes, all the time. Are they ordinary? Are they unusual, typical, exceptional? I don’t know - it’s in the eye (and heart) of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not for me to say. I can attest that they all have “subversive inner happenings,” because how could they not? All those swirling motivations, compulsions, conflicts, emotions, tragedies, comedies. The stuff that occupies the home space always reflects these very personal happenings in some way. We spend a lot of time talking about the things in the home, instead of the people who are the minders, users, curators, and discarders of said things.
A recent New York Times article about the heaviness of clutter is a sobering look at the effect of our belongings on our selves. The article recounts a study where people who perceived themselves as having a cluttered home tended to have increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) throughout the day. Notice it said, “perceived.” Again, disorganized stuff is in the eye of the beholder (or audience), not in the eye of the stuff itself. From my experience, too, it’s interdependent: stressed people often create disorganization, and disorganization generally creates stressed people.
So most of all, I appreciate the idea that a home (or even a workspace) can be a laboratory. Without meaning to sound flip, aren’t we all conducting a bit of an experiment with ourselves?
What sort of hypothesis could you test out, in your subversive, self-effacing, un-neutral home?
*No, I have not watched the show. I probably will someday, once all the fuss has blown over. I’m contrary that way.
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?