There comes a time in a married person’s life when your beloved, sexy life partner becomes a roommate. And roommates make mess.
This happened to me on Sunday.
My husband attempted to access a file labeled “taxes” and he couldn’t; misplaced extension cords jammed the cabinet. He cracked. The Earth opened wide, his head exploded and poof! He was gone.
We are not orderly people. Upholstered chairs disappear under impressive piles of discarded clothes. Loose change clogs drawers. Bookshelves droop with disorganized family photos, outdated travel guides and vintage cameras.
Is this junk? Old stuff? Cool stuff? We don’t really have the answer. What we do know is that we are calmer when things are organized.
Hence my recent self study in Feng Shui.
My course begins with these two books:
Feng Shui that Makes Sense – Easy Ways to Create a Home that FEELS as Good as it Looks by Cathleen McCandless
According to Dr. Feng and Dr. Shui, clutter is the result of a death grip on the past (and that a person is unwilling or unable to part with items.) But this doesn’t quite explain why “we” have so much crap! We’re not that sentimental. We’re just lazy.
I married someone who is cleanly, but is not orderly. He married someone less cleanly, but more orderly.
Unfortunately for us, we both lack the P-Touch labeler gene.
Being a disorganized adult makes me feel like a bad person. I will be buried in a tomb filled with loosely taped cardboard boxes. My decomposing body will rest next to piles of unwanted college textbooks, CD’s, ethernet cables and a finicky Italian toaster.
Why is there so much contempt for those of us not gifted in organization? And, why are there TV shows about hoarders and life swaps and DIY renovations? Every spare, ivory living room and stark counter top is a blow to my self-esteem.
Where did all their stuff go? Poof? Goodwill? Poof? AmVets? Poof? Ebay? Craigslist? Poof, poof?
Cluttered offices and closets don’t just happen. They evolve–unwieldy from neglect and inertia.
In defense of my chaos:
- I lived in a New York City apartment. It came with a small storage unit.
- I moved to California. Stuff went into a bigger storage unit. I had another baby.
- For three years in California, I accumulated new stuff.
- Then I was reunited with old stuff when we moved into a new house.
- Our new house was under construction. We didn’t have finished closets. Things weren’t put away properly.
- My childhood home was sold. Influx of new, old stuff entered my house.
- I had another baby. More stuff.
In just writing the aforementioned list, I nervously ate six Milano cookies.
Last week I started The Purge (I speak not of the campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union which occurred from 1936 to 1938, although it felt like that.) This was space clearing — the removal of physical grime, predecessor energy and clutter.
In my purge, I uncovered a short letter from my Dean at Columbia Film School apologizing to a family because I used the real name of a their deceased Dad in my short student film and I portrayed his character as dim witted. Not my greatest idea, of course.
I save this letter to show my kids that someday when they make creative leaps, they could fall flat on their ass (like I did.) I save old journals. The raw emotion of my younger self inspires me.
I thumbed through my many screenplays that lack third acts. Why is writing a third act so hard? Are you seeing a theme here? Order. Organizing. Third act structure?
I have my great grandmother’s wedding shoes from the Homeland (Greece) dating from the 1880’s. Why my relatives have kept the shoes and not a gold bangle? I keep the shoes but toss many of the items my dead, haunting relatives hoarded. I find one of my first creative fiction stories. I wrote it as a 16 year old.
Problem: I hate storage units. I vehemently oppose them. This is a $22 billion sickness blanketing America! Why pay to store junk? Jerry Seinfeld so perfectly address this issue:
Feng Shui proposes that when you give away possessions, you make room for new gifts to find their way into your life.
So, I go to it.
After a day’s work in the office, which is now bleeding into the garage, bedroom closet, laundry room closet, and kids’ closets, I thought I would sleep deeply. But I don’t.
My back is sore. Thoughts race about what to organize next. Maybe this is why I dread this task so much? Having a complete life overhaul has its drawbacks at 2am.
But I admit it: I am writing more and it is because my office is unclogged. I have climbed aboard the Feng Shui bandwagon.
But I will never know how to calculate the Eight Elements of a person’s year of birth, month, day and time and how are the Four Pillars of Destiny used in Feng Shui? For now, I will readjust my sofa into a position to create better naptimes.That’s Feng Shui for me.