What is Clutter?

Clearly I’m on a clutter roll here… Clutter is anything that is in the way of something else.  This idea struck me last night.

Right now, my book club is clutter.  I love my book club: the friends, the interaction, the discussion, even the dinner–our venue is a casual restaurant which is so fun–no clean-up!  But I’m reading (or not really) books in which I’m not all that interested in right now.  The books are fine, the books are interesting, but right now rather than the latest Pulitzer winner, I’m on the parenting and organizing circuit.  I can’t get my head around much else.  It’s not that I don’t want to read the books.  But actually I don’t want to read the books.

So last night I walked into my bedroom and caught sight of my desk, which I cleared off and relocated (that’s another story), and an unexpected and involuntary jerk of joy swam across my face.  There resting on my desk was a copy of a book I wanted to read! And there was nothing beside it! You see earlier in the day I forced myself to accept that I did not want to and would in fact not read the current book club selection and I made myself return it to the library.  That book had been next to the book I was given recently from the World Book Night USA list (The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, if you must know), a not so demanding read that pulled me right in with the first page. The book I was Supposed to read was telling me that I was not Allowed to read the other book because I was Supposed to be reading that one first (In The Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, if you must know).  And I did want to read it.  Really, I did.  And I started it too.  But with so little time, did I really want to invest all those hours (I am a painfully slow reader) into a book I didn’t really want to read right now –as good and great as it might be– instead of doing something else I’d rather do–say read a different book, or maybe -gasp- some poetry – or write in my blog? How could I?

I did.  I stopped reading the book.  I accepted the loss and future challenge of returning to it when I was ready.  I returned the book.  I am going to hang up my book club hat for now.  I am going to read other books.  I am going to write in my blog.

When I saw my desk and only the book I wanted to read, I realized then the other book was clutter.  The other book was reminding me of what I was supposed to do rather than what I wanted to do.  It was a distraction.  It had to go.  It was a relief and a joy to see that it was gone.  In that moment, I understood clarity.  Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.  But sometimes you don’t.  Some things are elective even though they feel like they’re not.  If the elective becomes clutter and not joy, it has to go.

In that microcosm I saw the macro.  Is my general house clutter a distraction from at the very least my writing?  Yes.  Is it easy to get rid of?  No.  Am I ignoring it to write right now?  Yes.  Will I address the clutter?  I am.  But at least for now, not at the expense of writing.

What is your clutter? What can you let go of to make room for what you really want?  It can be as small as a book you don’t want to read.

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