I am having one of my periodic overwhelmed-with-stuff moments.
I love getting actual Christmas cards (though I’m not as good as I used to be at sending them all out) and I enjoyed wrapping a bunch of Christmas presents today. But having Christmas cards and presents in the living room makes me extra-aware of the amount of STUFF that also inhabits this room. Suddenly I feel like it’s all piling up in my head and I can’t think.
Normally, the stuff and I cohabit fairly happily. We’re not giant hoarders and most of the stuff can be heaved into a cupboard or drawer, or at least a neat pile, within about 10 minutes if people are coming round. But the piles are kind of the problem.
You know about broken windows theory: one broken window in a neighbourhood leads to more broken windows. Graffiti that’s not cleaned off gives the message that it’s OK to graffiti, and the graffiti grows. I read a post a while back that said that the same thing happens with stuff (particularly paper, which is our #1 stuff issue). Once you put a piece of paper down on a table/shelf/sideboard/chair/sofa/desk/floor/printer/chest of drawers (all, sadly, real examples from my house) then it’s not going to stay isolated. It magically attracts other paper. And it grows and grows. You don’t really notice it growing. You just go to find something and discover that last years Christmas cards are still in that pile behind the photographs. (Also true. Useful for making gift tags.)
My hobbies don’t really help the situation. Knitting stuff seems to multiply (although I do at least have 2 designated knitting-stuff zones that I periodically shuffle things into). And the writing thing makes it more likely that that random illegible scrap of paper should be considered as a potential poem instead of just junk. Books also accumulate in piles and we have the products of my art class and Mr Woodsmoke’s woodturning class sitting around (although Mr Woodsmoke’s marvellous lamp only needs a shade and then it will actually be doing something useful).
I have a terrible habit of putting things down and never getting round to moving them. I just excavated the table beside the sofa and as well as the knitting things and random assorted paper, I found hairbands, a nickel, an old pair of glasses, two notebooks, my blood donor card and a whole load of other stuff that I can’t remember (this is like some twisted version of Kim’s game). These are not things that don’t have homes to go to. They are just things that I couldn’t be arsed to put away.
I know that we’re not exactly in hoarders territory. The house is mostly clean. We have space to move about.
But it just seems absurd to think of all the stuff we have. Sometimes having it neatly in drawers and cupboards seems to miss the point. It’s still all there lurking. We converted one of the built-in wardrobes into shelving and it’s full of stuff. Out of everything in there, I think we only ever go in to get 5 items (hammer, screwdriver, a couple of recipe books and the Ikea catalogue).
Every so often I get this urge to be one of the people who only own 100 things. I don’t think I’d actually be that good at it. Minimalist interiors don’t appeal to me all that much. I like having a few books around. But it just seems like it would clear some mental space.
Probably there’s a middle way of trying to do battle with the stuff. I feel a New Year’s resolution coming on.