It’s been a year of releasing things to make room for whatever brave new world is pushing up from this 21st century compost heap. Just now I am hauling boxes of books to the used bookseller and donating the overflow to the library. So hard to let go of a book. But we are overwhelmed by hardcovers, paperbacks, museum catalogs, picture books–and we need the space.
One yellowing paperback that gets to stay is Karen Kingston’s Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui. I’ve blogged about her books before. She works from the premise that clutter is a reflection of the inner you–uh oh–and that there are reasons that go beyond mere traffic flow and hygiene to become clutter-free. It’s a very basic primer, setting out the simplest principles of Feng Shui and exploring the reasons how and why clutter happens–and what you should do about it.
One interesting idea is that unfinished projects, even when neatly stowed, are clutter because they block the energy flow in your life. That afghan half-completed and folded neatly in the craft box? Clutter. Organized shoeboxes of photographs waiting for the day they slip into an album? Clutter. Paper clutter is a biggie and other people’s clutter can be fatal. It’s a huge mistake to take in the family leavings–Aunt Theoora’s carved walnut dining set and gilt-edged china are clutter in your attic. If you have a serious problem with stuff bequeathed to you that piles up–and up and up–you could create unhealthy conditions in your home and even block fire exits.
But the typical clutter is more modest–a closet crammed with clothes that might fit again someday or just need a zipper fixed or a new hem. Kitchen cabinets house seldom- or never-used appliances–when was the last time you made air-popped popcorn or homemade waffles? Charming collectibles can be clutter–porcelain kittens are cute but they take time to dust and proliferate all over shelves and tabletops. Email should be use-and-lose, not save-to-deal-with-later; ditto snail mail.
Kingston offers some pain-free, or almost pain-free, ways to get started clearing out your clutter. She tells you how to do a simple space clearing to get the energy moving and motivate you to get out the trash bags. Space clearing, a spiritual practice, is best done after you lose the clutter but it can jump-start things for the habitual procrastinator. A single junk drawer could be the opening sortie–you might feel so virtuous that you immediately tackle the garage.
And while you’re at it, Kingston says not to overlook your body and your mind. A daily meditation practice can interrupt the useless chatter and worry loop that occupies your mind most of the time. A detox and a cleaner diet will help your body to get rid of the junk you dumped in there. I love to imagine the sleek, pared down surroundings of the annoyingly healthy person at the conclusion of all this admirable Feng Shui–boundless energy sparkling over everything. Just as soon as I get these last few boxes of books out of here, and dust all the bookshleves, reorganize the remaining books, reshelve all the books on the window seat, the chest, the floor…
Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui Karen Kingston | Broadway Books 1999