I never really took to heart how dangerous it was, keeping the corner of my upstairs loft as my daily dumping grounds. In truth it was really more like the better half of a large room that exists up the stairs of my small home. It was the place I put the things I’m too tired to put away each night: the pile of mail I picked up on the way home but don’t really want to deal with right now, the boxes I haven’t unpacked since I moved in more than two years ago, stacked on top of boxes still unpacked from moves before that. It’s where the clothes I can’t fit into hang, where old picture frames and posters collect dust and debris, and momentos that mean something only to me are hidden away.
Ironically this dumping ground exists within my favorite space in my home…a loft area, with a peek at the ocean, I dreamed of having as my creative space when I moved in. It also happens to be the easiest space to close off and hide from people.
I think we all feel at some level how the junk drawers of our lives weigh us down. Some of us have entire spaces that fit the bill. Hoarders are the extreme cases, but most of us have dumping grounds of some sort. It wasn’t until Martha Beck asked me to give it a soul of sorts…a voice, that I realized how truly dangerous it was, and how how much it was taking from me.
What would my dumping grounds say to me if it could talk?
“Stop it. I’m suffocating, and I’m angry. Clean up this mess. I need room to breathe. Until you do, I will continue to trip you up, leaving your knees, head, and toes bruised every time you stumble trying to step over, around and under me. I will hide your treasures from you, wasting your valuable time and energy, giggling silently as you frantically search for something important you need desperately to find right now. Deal with me! I am not your friend until you do.”
It took that little exercise to prompt me to block out a couple of days and get to it. I can’t tell you how much more light of heart and spirit I feel walking into my home now that I have. Even though the space is upstairs, I feel the harmony that now exists there the minute I walk in the front door.
If our homes are symbolic of our lives, my loft was the dark corner in which I couldn’t seem to sit still long enough to deal with. It was the place in which I longed most to sit, relax, write and create, but the corner I gave the least focused attention. Consequently, it sat as a constant reminder of all I have fallen short of accomplishing.
We all have them: places we long to be, to explore, to experience. But we clutter up the our paths to get there with the debris of our daily lives, putting it off until some future perfect day when we can dive in. What is the space you give the least attention to in your life? The area you have a hunch would be your comfort zone, if you would only set up shop there. There is likely a place in your home that represents that. Want to travel the world, but can’t imagine having the time or money? Forget the rest of the house today. Focus on organizing all those travel magazines and books and find the perfect spot for them. They is not just another project you will get to “someday.” This is your dreams being denied because you are ignoring them.
I have come to believe putting off cleaning up the clutter of hobby space is more than procrastination. It is self-neglect. There is no future perfect. It is now. Today. And the longer you put off clearing the clutter, the harder it is to find the treasures.