Under Humour, Kalyani Chidambaranathan, Musings, Stopping to Stare
I’ve got around to clearing the tops of cupboards to give that clean streamlined look. Of course, now half the things are under the beds, but the challenge is to clear that space too…
I’m reading a book on feng shui as applied to clutter by Karen Kingston which is very inspiring. I’ve been clearing out the cupboards and spaces of my home as fast as I can. A lot of techniques are outlined in the book on how to sort things into different piles.
Actually, there’s nothing feng shui about removing clutter. Just throw out whatever you haven’t used for the past year or more; whatever you don’t like, whatever has bad associations, whatever you haven’t looked at for the past two years and so on. Karen can be so inspiring that you tend to throw out other people’s things, something which she strictly warns against!
The results may be feng shui or just plain space and energy. You feel good and virtuous, lighter, and a little happier that you don’t feel obliged to use some of the things you paid good money for. I know a friend who wore an expensive, smaller size shoes for a year before she admitted to being wrong and gave them away. I’m sure the Chinese torture didn’t do her much good! A little worse than admitting to a sartorial mistake.
One bit that appealed to me is giving away clothes that you think you will eventually grow thinner into. Keeping yesteryears’ things never works. As we middle-aged ‘spreaders’ know but hope otherwise! Seeing those smaller-sized clothes is a reminder of how small you were long ago and does more to depress you than inspire. And by the time you get to that size, the styles have changed.
Karen says that it’s best to let go of them. Stick to a few good clothes that fit you now and accept yourself. Well, I’ve given away some of my clothes to my kids, though their comments were rather painful. “Ma, it’s so big and it doesn’t fit you?” in incredulous tones. And seeing the thing that you cherished fondly for years covering their frames rather like a large sack is lacerating. Okay, soon I’ll be buying fresh clothes for the new thinner me which will happen once I throw away all the old thoughts and stuff, Karen promises. It’s like replacing old hope with fresh hope!
De-cluttering removes guilt. I don’t have to read all the books I’ve been keeping for some distant day. All the classics that stayed in the back of my shelves are now at the back of the library shelves.
Less is more. Or more space. The more you remove, the better a room looks. Clearing out a pile of magazines and books and other clutter that had gathered in the lobby over a year took about 15 minutes. I feel wonderful when I walk through the lobby now.
I’ve got around to clearing the tops of cupboards to give that clean streamlined look. Of course, now half the things are under the beds, but the challenge is to clear that space too. Do I really need to keep diaries 20 years past? Am I really going to write my autobiography? Even Gayathri Devi’s drags a little and she has had a much more interesting life.
Unfinished jobs, nagging chores, repairs, unwritten letters, and phone calls you are loath to make. Get them over and done with, Karen urges. It does feel good. Although I do seem to spend my time dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, crossing little things off lists is a good high.
Gifts – recycle them when you really don’t like them. One good point Karen makes is how you feel reassured when you see things from other people around you. It reminds you of who you are and makes you feel secure. And that’s why you hang on to things. I know my display shelves are not a reflection of my good taste but that of my friends’. Because they have given me stuff they don’t want! Otherwise they would have kept if for themselves.
My biggest happiness was filling a bag with several pairs of old spectacles. In a household where three of the four people wear glasses, we steadily filled a draw with old pairs as style and lenses changed, keeping them just in case. Now all the spectacles have gone to the local eye hospital; hopefully soon I will spot someone in that familiar 80s style huge plastic frames!
It’s partly baring your soul. And accepting that your life has moved on. Change has come. Giving away old pictures is tough although you have got new ones. A huge painting in shades of grey and blue will probably form part of someone’s wall and be of more use there than here. Hopefully it uplifts someone’s life as it never did mine.
Some of this energy stuff does seem to work. A few years ago, I threw away a bunch of photographs from my college days since I had never heard from any of my classmates for 20 years. Not that we were buddies in any sense even while studying in the same space. But a little later, after I had rejected them mentally, hey presto, some got in touch and now I have a bunch of them in my life.
I’ve refused the offer of a loan of a second book on feng shui. Knowing that my money cupboard is not in the right prosperity corner. And that hanging things including lights symbolizes depression is enough to send me into depression without reading further signs.
Truly, shedding kilos off my house and organizing my life is raising my self-esteem. Try it for some lightness in your life.
Published on desicritics.org in November 2007
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