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Clutter Is An Opinion

by Confluence
Reading Time: 3 minutes

By: Jacqueline Gates   – Confluence Daily is your daily news source for women in the know.

Picture, if you will, the stage of a theater….

The sumptuous red velvet curtain rises. The stage is set.

Without thinking, you notice a million tiny details – the light, the colours, the style. You’ll gather information about hobbies, marital status, character, age, finances.

In the space of a nanosecond, you’ve already got a fairly accurate idea about who lives there.

What you’re reading, faster and on more levels than your mind can register, is the character’s past.

What you see before you is the residue of who they WERE until this moment, the physical tokens of their past decisions, a 3D illustration of both their history and their present.

This is the magic of theater.
Every character has an environment.
Every story has its own world.

A stage is an empty shell.

The set-designer fills that shell with a multitude of bits of tangible and intangible information for his audience to ‘read’, so they instantly ‘get’ the backstory of the people who inhabit that world.

For those few hours, the characters become real. Their environment help make them so.

It is the same with our homes. The set-design analogy applies with illuminating aptness.

We live in an empty shell, filled with souvenirs of who-we-used-to-be. We are surrounded by the residue of who-we-were.

Our past decisions made tangible and visible in our present.

Make sense?

“As above so below, As within, so without.” ~ Hermetic Principle

Just as a theater set is a reflection of its inhabitants, so your home is a reflection of who you’ve been and who you are now.

It is filled the tangible manifestations of past decisions. It is filled with tokens and evidence of who you were, along with the accouterments of who you are now.

I call this Residue. It’s the outside stuff that’s left over from past (inside) identities.

It’s this identity piece that I feel Ms. Kondo doesn’t address thoroughly. It’s also the bit that gets people in a froth about tossing their books.

Clutter is residue that feels smothering, overwhelming, draggy.

Clutter is residue. But not all residue is clutter.

Some people (maximalists like me) like a lot of stuff around them. We like our environments embellished and interesting and story-full. Walls are covered in art. Everywhere the eye rests invites conversation. Oscar Wilde would feel right at home.

Others prefer swathes of clear surfaces and the serenity of items being precisely chosen-and-placed.

Neither is right or wrong.
It’s all simply identity made visible.
It’s all residue.

This is the genius of Marie Kondo’s pivotal question, “Does this spark joy?”

Every time you hold an item, and check for joy, it pulls you out of Who-You-Were and into Who-You-Are-Now. That person, right now, holding that thing – SHE decides if it stays or goes.

(AND I’ll digress here a moment to say, I don’t believe that everything in your life should spark joy.

I far prefer William Morris’ dictum, to “have nothing in your house that you do not find useful or deem to be beautiful.”

Sometimes, frugality and common sense will override joy and make the item worth keeping.)

Here’s where the identity piece comes in, with regards to what is or isn’t clutter – Only you get to decide how much residue you want surrounding you.

Google pictures of Picasso’s studio, or Chanel’s workshop – supposedly “cluttered”. Any avid reader will have a dozen or more books beside the bed – again, supposedly “cluttered”.

I disagree.

Clutter is an opinion, a perspective.
And both perspective and opinions are rooted in identity.

“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” ~ Anais Nin

One person’s clutter is another’s smorgasbord of creative opportunities.
The problem arises when we allow outside voices to override our inner knowing.

So, gentle reader, by all means jump on the Kondo wagon and start releasing the residue of who you used to be,
but only if it frees you up to be more of who you are now.

You don’t want to lose your SELF in the process.



More by Jacqueline:


Jacqueline Gates has mastered the art of applying theatrical skills to anchor and amplify the manifesting technique known as acting-as-if.  Because when you begin LIVING-as-if you already are who you secretly dream of becoming, it won’t stay a secret very long.



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