Reading about a new book by E. L. Doctorow, “Homer & Langley,” got me thinking about the clutter in my life.
Whenever my room or my sister’s room looked particularly messy to her, my mother would stand in the doorway and say, “This place looks like the Collyer brothers.”
That was her hint the room looked pretty cluttered with books, clothes, shoes, sneakers, records (yes, I know this dates me!) and various stuff I found or collected. It was time, according to my mother, to get it put away or throw it out.
The more my room was cluttered the harder it was to get started. It was an effort even to decide where to begin.
Accumulation creeps up even on the neatest person, as anyone will attest as they pack up an apartment or house for a move. Where did all this stuff come from? Pick up an object that you have completely forgotten about, but holding it brings back memories of people, places and events of the past. “Should I put it in the box or get rid of it?” sometimes becomes a very hard decision if we reconnect with a strong emotional attachment or memory.
Some people, myself included, need to create in the middle of a mess, with papers and objects strewn all over close by for reference and ideas.
But when does “good clutter” become overwhelming, debilitating, isolating? Does cluttered time mirror a cluttered space, or can the two be separate in a person’s life?