big clutter

Apr 24, 2022

“You manage clutter well”.

This came from a visitor to my home many years ago now.  Be still my organized heart!

My guest was referencing my use of baskets, boxes, hooks, and other clever, hidden storage spaces to control the clutter. For me, visual calm in my environment creates calm in my body and mind.

Unfortunately, other less-tangible life messes cannot be so easily contained with such control or mere organizational bins.  There are no tidy places to tuck away significant disruptions, distressing confrontations, physical pain, demoralizing disappointments, personal regrets, toxic shame and death.

In fact, attempting to hide life’s bigger messes by giving them the cold shoulder, fleeing from them or collapsing at the feet of the disorder they cause could send the message to ourselves that we can’t handle it.

When you have a friend who is struggling with their own big messy matters, you’d mostly likely say “Hey, you’ve got this” or “You are strong, I know you can handle it”. You might even say “How can I help?” We become one more option in their collection of supportive resources.

So why do we expect to manage our own big issue messes without access to our own resources for support?  Why do we resist having our own backs?  Where does that instinct for self-sabotage come from?

What if we gathered our assortment of less tangible resources equivalent to my baskets, boxes, hooks and other clutter-managing tools for the inevitable times of big messiness in our lives. Stoic philosophy suggests that we prepare for discomfort of stormy weather when the sun is shining.


It is in times of security that the spirit should be preparing itself to deal with difficult times; while fortune is bestowing favors on it then is the time for it to be strengthened against her rebuffs.
– Seneca, Letters from a Stoic


This recognition and accumulation of our own resources when things are going well is a practical way to have our own backs. To send ourselves the message that we can set the tendency to self-sabotage on the shelf.

What resources do you have to help you manage life’s less-tangible clutter?

One of my resources for sitting with the messiness of life is poetry and these lines from Mary Oliver are some of my favourites.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
(Wild Geese)

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