Thursday, July 10, 2008

Clutter Part 1

(Since it's about clutter, there will definitely be more than one part)

The need to surround myself with goods. Understanding this need and exploring it is itself a whole subject.

The unwillingness to take the time to rid. Appreciating not just the time but the process of organizing, cleaning, putting away, throwing away. The lovely work of my friend who became a Buddhist priest: moving progressively from larger home to apartment and then to smaller apartment, and the ease with which she, “sold it, gave it away, threw it away,” talking about the process of stripping her goods from her surroundings and from the need to “own.” And this even while one of her two children was still at home with her.

Watching my daughter “clean” her room, ridding herself of those belongings of childhood, or simply of last month, last year, that which she no longer needs, no longer finds to be a necessary part of her life. And my visceral difficulty even seeing her throw away her own possessions, things that theoretically had nothing to do with me.

If one is, in fact, at whole with the universe, then individual and perhaps selfish ownership is unnecessary.

This understanding, hard to truly believe and harder to incorporate, still needs to be balanced against the experience of those who live through extreme poverty, extreme need, when food is not available, let alone other needs of comfort and warmth.

What is the basic need for each person, for me, for my life?

The astounding, moving book of photographs showing home possessions by families from across the world. The extraordinary massiveness of the American family’s home possessions compared to every other family portrayed.

I know that if I were to be photographed with my multiple and duplicating and unnecessary possessions, I would be shamed, it is so much more than I either need or am capable of utilizing. I keep an object even when I am not using it, for what reasons?

? Possible use in the future.
? In case another one breaks.
? Because it meant something to me at one time, and I recall that meaning.
? Because it might be too expensive to replace.
? Because I have not taken the time to organize and cull.

These are all past or future reasons; they take me out of the present, out of enjoying what I presently have and do, and, in a large way, are indications of my not trusting the future, not trusting the wonderful concept of when I have a need, the world and my surroundings will help me provide for that need. Perhaps if I concentrate on keeping the object only for the following reason: I know I currently enjoy using it or looking at it. I would also allow leeway for a reasonable period of time, if I know that I will be using it or enjoying it in the (relatively) near future. So “storage” would be for definite future activities or definite future use or giving away.

From a different perspective, I enjoy beauty and being surrounded by beauty. The clutter takes those items which I do love and in which I find solace from their loveliness, and dissipates their beauty, their chi. As with the concept of Japanese painting, or o-shodo, character painting, it is as important to recognize the importance of the space, the emptiness surrounding an object, as it is to create or recognize the intrinsic shape itself. It is the placement and the negative area that allows an object to exert its influence.

When clutter is eliminated, in an orderly and regular manner, then one can attend to the next task or activity with an enjoyment that is unfettered. Otherwise, the mind is distracted from the new task by the interference of the old, and with annoying thoughts of “I need to finish up...” or “I should have ...” These thoughts, again, take the focus away from the present.

So, maybe the important phrase above is “orderly and regular.” I will attend to some of that now and perhaps examine it more closely in this blog again soon.

No comments: