The Unbearable Heaviness of Clutter

 Image //  via

Image // via

I moved to San Francisco after only two brief visits, knowing in my bones that this eucalyptus scented city was my home.  

Sight unseen, I signed a lease on an apartment.  It had easy access to my work and, more importantly, was close to my girlfriends who were already settled in the city.  

I'd found a Craigslist gem: a ground floor five bedroom that I shared with four other roommates.  We had two bathrooms, a dishwasher, a window in each bedroom, and *gasp* a washer/dryer right in the hall.

The apartment was situated in what I imagined to be a dream locale: within blocks of a sweet little park, close to gorgeous, historic homes and right up the hill from fun, funky, vibrant strip of restaurants and bars.  

An empty parking lot next door served as the hub of our micro-neighborhood and attracted all matter of people: drum circles and hula-hoop enthusiasts, skateboarding teenagers recording each other doing tricks, a trio of kindly homeless men and their mutts.  

It felt like quintessential San Francisco, a place where vast swathes of people co-exist peacefully, where we all live and let live.  

Unfortunately, a growing group of hostile individuals were encroaching on this lovely shared space.  Slowly, other groups ceased returning to the lot.  This new group cat-called every passer by and said things to me that make me shudder to this day.  One afternoon I returned from a run to see my roommate being held up at gun and knife point at the corner of that very lot.  

The final straw occurred in the middle of a warm fall night.  My female roommate left her window a few inches ajar to enjoy the night breeze and woke up to two strange men inside her room, passing her computer out the window to a third robber.  Luckily, everyone was unharmed, but the violation of our space made it impossible for me to feel safe, even inside my own home.  

When I moved a mile across town I was worried I would miss my funky neighborhood, my roommates, my walkability to friends.  But that next morning when I walked outside of my new apartment for the first time, I realized what I had been dealing with.

I paused at the door of my building to "armour up": emotionless expression, focused posture, eyes straight ahead, prepared to ignore obscene remarks and gestures directed at me.  

I exhaled, walked outside and it was....quiet.  Peaceful.  I felt safe. 

The release washed over me.  I think I laughed.  I might have cried a little.  I let my shoulders down.  I actually looked up at the sky and saw the soft hues of a fading sunrise.  The lightness was visceral, felt throughout my body.

I hadn't realized the profound weight of that experience until I was free from it.  

Like the frog in warm water brought slowly to a boil, I'd just gotten accustomed to a way of living that I couldn't have imagined before and I would never return to now.  

The same is true of clutter.

People live with clutter because they don't actually understand the effect it takes on them.  They're so accustomed to being bombarded with visual stimuli, piles in the corners, piles on the counters, dozens of to-do's staring at them, just waiting to be done.  

You might think it doesn't bother you, but your subconscious has to armour up for these moments.  Your home, your very sanctuary, is a constant reminder of what you need to do, where you're not succeeding, all of the promises that you made to yourself and others that you're not keeping.  Even if you are not actively dealing with your clutter, your brain is working on overdrive to ignore it all being there.  

The most universal reaction from our clients after we work together is exactly that -- a casual laugh, a dropping of the shoulders, a sensation of lightness and clarity where it hadn't even seemed possible before.  It gives me the chills everytime.

Are you ready for that?  

The freedom, the release of the clutter-free life?  

Here are the 11 Decluttering Questions You Should be Asking YourselfHow to Let Go of Something You Used to Really Love and Why I Donated My Wedding Dress to get you started!