OPINION

The real problem when it comes to clutter

COMMON PITFALL: We must be sure that we don't allow our possessions to possess us. Picture: Shutterstock
COMMON PITFALL: We must be sure that we don't allow our possessions to possess us. Picture: Shutterstock

A five-year-old boy, noticing how much backchat his father was getting away with, decided he would also try his hand at the dark arts with his mother.

"Mummy, I'm getting a little tired of you making up rules and stuff every time you want me to clean my room!"

"Like what?" asked his mother.

"Like, if I don't clean up my room a time machine will come and swallow me and my room up as if I never even existed!"

The mother said: "Well, that's what happened to your brother."

"What brother?" he asked.

His mother whispered to him: "Exactly."

My mother never tried that trick on me. Of course, she never succeeded in getting me to tidy up my room either.

In my defence, it was nigh on impossible to have a tidy bedroom sharing it with a brother who thought the dirty clothes basket was the entire room.

I think it's a sign of God's mercy that the human nose acclimatises to even the worst of smells within a few minutes.

Yet, I still believe that, thanks to my brother, the stench from our room at least kept our sisters out.

My parents would say I was the messy one in the room, but what would parents know?

Once, when the light switch in our room wouldn't work, Dad thought I'd thrown a shoe at it to turn it off.

Readers, it couldn't possibly have been me as I couldn't even find my shoes most of the time.

I'd seen punks, grunge kids and other non-conformists on TV wearing odd socks, but I was the only kid I knew who knowingly left the house wearing odd shoes.

In a cynical age, it's hard to believe a book that claims it will change your life forever. Marie Kondo, in her 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing makes exactly this claim, and I do not think she is lying.

I felt the need to read her book twice, just in case I misunderstood her as she makes some bold claims.

For example, Kondo says that "when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future." Could this be true?

A line in the Bible that many struggle with is when Jesus said "no one of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions".

Is this to mean we should give away our car and walk to church in our underwear?

If so, such a wide interpretation would deny us even our smalls.

To allow our possessions to possess us is the real danger here.

Perhaps you are not rich, perhaps you are even poor.

Yet, is it possible that have so many possessions that they are preventing you from enjoying your possessions?

Could your clutter be cluttering your thinking and, thus, your life?

This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. I think those who restrict other's legitimate freedom are among the worst people in the world. Yet, clutter does exactly that.

There's a lot irony in clutter. Clutter often comes from having a poor childhood.

And yet, today's clutter is allowing your own things to strangle you and rob you.

You bought a copy of The Great Gatsby? Great! So, where is it? You don't know? You might as well not have it then.

I wear exactly the same outfit every day, but you're possibly only a few outfits ahead of me.

Maybe you are rotating the same few outfits all the time because you can't find easily a lot the clothes you've spent a fortune on.

And look at all your books! Haven't you heard of Kindle? And honestly, are you ever going to read them?

I hope I don't sound too tough here. I once asked a woman with an exceptionally tidy house "how do you do it?"

She replied "when it comes to clutter, you have to be ruthless!"

To allow our possessions to possess us is the real danger here. Perhaps you are not rich, perhaps you are even poor. Yet, is it possible that have so many possessions that they are preventing you from enjoying your possessions? Could your clutter be cluttering your thinking and, thus, your life?

Twitter: @frbrendanelee

This story The real problem when it comes to clutter first appeared on The Canberra Times.