For two thousand years, bloodletting was the most commonly performed medical procedure to supposedly cure various ills and keep the body “in balance.” Bloodletting eventually fell under the purview of barbers whose barber poles still symbolize the white bandages, the red blood and the rod that patients gripped while being emptied of their excess fluid. (May I just take a moment here to mention how happy I am that those days are in the past? UGH!)
I will say though, that I am in the middle of a modern-day bloodletting of sorts also designed to bring balance back into my life. Of course this procedure doesn’t require a scalpel, just a bunch of GLAD garbage bags. You see, I am slowly, systematically, going through various rooms and closets getting rid of stuff I do not use or need.
This is seasonal therapy for me. I just get to a certain point where I feel overwhelmed by my own belongings. Books, clothes, souvenirs, greeting cards, you name it..every 5 months or so I am itching for more free space, more cleared surfaces, more empty shelves..I’m mentally and physically allergic to my home-grown, ever-blooming excess.
Pamela Druckerman wrote an interesting piece in the NY Times recently examining our need to de-clutter. She refers to a best selling book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” In it, the author promises that you will discover your mission in life, along with more time and passion to pursue it, once your clutter is tamed.
Personally, I am not sure I buy into all of that, and frankly my goals are a lot less lofty. I simply get tired of seeing, moving, cleaning and saving things that don’t add something positive to my life. Pamela refers to a study of middle class families in Los Angeles that found that only one in four are able to keep their car in the garage due to clutter, so I’m guessing I’m not the only one constantly dealing with this issue.
Some things are very easy to get rid of, like an ill fitting dress that I’m sorry I ever bought. Other stuff is much more difficult to pack up, like some of my deceased sister’s knick knacks. I haven’t been able to part with any of them yet, but have at least allowed myself to finally ask..how many of those items do I need to keep– and why?
For me, de-cluttering is a critical, re-evaluative process; a restorative ritual that is reflective of my ever changing life and an important confirmation that I am the owner of all my stuff..it does not (will not-cannot) own me.