This is Day 2 of a 21-Day Saluteâ„¢ devoted to addressing the physical (and attendant intangible) clutter in my life. To read the entire series in reverse chronological order, click here. To read about this 21-Day Saluteâ„¢ thing, click here.
A very wise fellow you’ll be hearing a lot more about over the course of this little Saluteâ„¢ gave me a great piece of advice for reframing my clothes closet quandary: if you were in a store today and came across this item, would you purchase it?
Bam. Straight to the heart of the matter, that goes, barreling through the familiar and venerable barriers of “…but I’ll wear it someday” and “…but it’s still perfectly good” and “…but I paid so much for it.”
Or maybe it neatly sidesteps them, which is really the point of reframing. You don’t exactly win by arguing with the Great and Powerful Oz; you can, however, really shift things around by sending old Toto around back to draw open the curtain for the big reveal. How you like them apples, Naked Emperor?
If there are two types of people, those for whom dressing is a burden and those for whom it is an everlasting delight, I fall firmly in the latter camp. I’m a performer and a rag-picker and a seer-of-potential: few things ring my bell like unearthing an expertly home-sewn, fitted denim duster with frog closures and passimenterie (for 12 bucks American!) that I can throw over a crisp white shirt and, well, anything but jeans, and look fan-fucking-tabulous with hand-sewn bells on. Except maybe my Kelly green, wide-wale dandy suitcoat (purchased new at a sample sale). Or any one of the six vintage leather jackets I seem to attract like other lucky folk do Kojak parking (mint & <$40 is to vintage leather jackets as pull-in at the door of the gig is to Kojak parking).
The problem, like anything else in this great world made up both of intangibles that really matter (love and ideas) and stuff that really doesn’t (food and clothes are nice, but you get my drift) is in what constitutes enough. Or, as the alcoholic answered when asked, “How much did you drink?”, all of it. If some great old stuff from a thrift store is good, more must be better. Plus, it’s not like I’m breaking the bank, here: it’s $5.99 for this shirt; if it doesn’t quite work, I’ll dump it back into the stream.
Which is great, we love renting and recycling, but even if you are the holiest of holies and put that sucka right back in the giveaway pile (and I have), there is still the little issue of time cost. What opportunities have I lost by spending this time dealing with a $5.99 shirt that may or may not work with those pants and that scarf, but that absolutely has just required a non-returnable measure of my attention.
Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.
Clutter has a weird gravitational pull to it. It pulls us to it and pulls itself to walls and floors and then the very piles it is made of. I’ve addressed my clutter time and time again, and it is only on this last go-’round that I feel like perhaps, perhaps, a corner has been turned.
Here is the one thing I can say with absolute certitude about things and my attachment to them: for as painful as the letting go can be (and boy, can it ever), the release that I feel just after, the opening in my heart that opening in my closet creates, is as close to the sitting-in-the-hand-of-God-0r-whomever that was the brief, temporary gift of my epiphany.
What one thing will I let go of today? What one thing will you?