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‘Idiot’ is such a terrible word, but it does get to the heart of the matter. Brett Rogers of Vitality Massage just posted a YouTube video discussing what he calls ‘idiot abundance’, a pretty spot-on term for our houses full of things we never actually needed and rarely if ever use.
Thanks to our American culture of morbid consumerism, you can drive to Wal-Mart any day and pick up some completely idiotic, cheaply made, aesthetically repulsive, built for obsolescence, made in China, smells weird Thing that will land in the waste stream or a tag sale (and consequently the waste stream) before long. Or it will sit in your home for years, cluttering space, collecting dust, going out of style, and falling apart.
My husband and I have been working a lot lately on remedying our idiot abundance. Everything we’re parting with is being stacked in the garage for a huge summer tag sale. What doesn’t sell will go to Big Brothers/Big Sisters.
The lighter a load you travel with, the easier it is to walk. The mind clears. There’s more room for pure thought. Your home’s floor plan opens, and you breathe. Shelves clear off, cabinets lighten up, and you breathe. Closet space is rediscovered, and you breathe. The dust clears, and you breathe. You can swing your arms around anywhere you walk, and you breathe - and dance. The landscape of your life becomes unclouded, and your spirit expands.
A few years ago, I knew a man who lived alone, and still in his childhood house – a building of chaos and clutter, filth, and desperation. He had a hoarding disorder, the worst I’d ever seen. He was deeply anxious, withdrawn from society, clinically depressed, grappling with drug addiction, drinking every day, unemployed, sleeping a lot, angry a lot, addicted to the darkest corners of the Internet, and terribly lonely.
These things that filled the rooms of his house, covered the floors and walls, lined the stairs, and filled the sinks, bathroom, bedrooms, and basement had no value. It was other peoples’ junk: roadside castoffs, worthless tag sale ‘finds’, remnants of his childhood, his first marriage, old girlfriends, the children he lost is his divorce. By surrounding himself with clutter, by building this cocoon, he hoped to smother his pain. But it didn’t work. In his lucid moments, he saw the seriousness of his situation, but felt powerless to do anything about it. In the time I knew him, he continued to decline. He was burying himself alive.
But if we are also surrounding ourselves with the gadgets and widgets of idiot abundance, then we too are skimming perilously close to such a pathology.
The bread making machine, vegetable chopper, iced tea maker, ice cream maker, and waffle iron that are never used, the cheap ceramic figurines that fill shelves, collect dust, and are no longer noticed, the clothes we haven’t worn in years, the old Christmas ornaments from former lives, the collection of DVDs we never watch, the piles of books that are never read, the 25 identical screwdrivers in the workshop, and the dead computer on the floor that was long ago replaced by a new one – all of these things clog a life like they clog an artery.
My husband and I both want to travel much lighter through our lives. So, we’re doing a very large and serious clean out. We do a minor sweep each season, but this time it’s a big one. This time, we’re parting with things that we have been emotionally attached to for years, things we never before considered parting with. The things we never used or looked at, but never wanted to part with. The tough stuff.
About a half of one of our garage bays is holding what we’ve discarded so far. And there’s more to come. We both already feel an immense sense of physical and psychological relief. There’s less stuff. A lot less. Someone else who wants it can have it. We’re trying to avoid the landfill. If it can’t be sold at our tag sale, we’ll give it away.
Idiot abundance is the thin edge of the wedge of the kind of devastating hoarding disorder my friend had. It’s the gateway ‘drug’ to obsession, repression, and addiction. Addiction to things. Things that own us.
Spring is on the way. It’s cleaning time. Do a big sweep. Lighten your load. Leave your past and all its tenuous ‘things’ behind. Gift yourself the gift of being in your home and being able to breathe, of looking forward to the future without the burden of the past. Don’t buy more. Let the abundance be within you, not around you.