The one thing I hate both as a writer and as a human being is clutter. I hate the sound of the word. That sound it makes when my tongue hits the roof of my mouth and pushes to the back of my teeth; clutter. It drives me nuts. And that is not the worst. It paralyzes me.
That is why I take the pain to clear my desk at the office at every given opportunity. I do this before I start work, and before I leave. It’s constant. I also do this in-between stuff. As soon as I begin to get that feeling of mess and confusion, something needs to go somewhere. Something needs to go back into its space. My mind and body cannot rest until my desk is free of junk.
When I come home it’s the same. Even though I take the pain to make sure my room is as tidy as it can be, I always find something to pick up.
The first thing I do when I wake up is to lay my bed. Note, not when I wake up in the morning, but when I wake up. So it doesn’t matter what time of the day it is. It’s been like this for years. I do not go out of my room without straightening the sheets, and making sure the pillows, blankets, and other things are clean or neatly folded. I am always rearranging books; tearing them down and then rearranging them because I have to. They have to be orderly.
My shoes are not spared either. I want them sitting perfectly on the rack; left-right-left-right. In that order.
My wardrobe. The one place I don’t mess with. All of my girlfriends know this. I will do anything. I will give anything so they don’t do girl stuff in my wardrobe; like pick and drop. A couple even blackmailed me with that.
You’d be surprised I even hate it when the notes in my purse are jumbled. I want all of my money arranged in a particular order.
My friends think I am obsessed. I’m not. I just really hate clutter.
When I was in senior year (level 400) at the university, I had this friend. Matter of fact, I was sleeping over at her place one-time because we needed to work on our thesis. We agreed to take turns sleeping so that one of us would wake the other.
That night before she slept, I watched her arrange all of her stuff around her, on the bed, leaving just some small space for her body. She told me she could never sleep unless there was stuff on her bed. Stuff like clothes, books, whatever. I was shocked.
I was shocked because it was the exact opposite for me.
I cannot, under any circumstance, sleep with stuff on my bed. It takes my breath away. And it’s not the good kind of taking breath away. I will choke to death. My body will be restless. My mind too. And I will start to itch all over. That happens to me when I am very uncomfortable. That’s why I hate to be out in the rain, especially when it’s mud-spattered. I tend to itch.
Clutter is not my friend. Perhaps it’s even my worst enemy. It doesn’t only affect my life negatively, but my writing too.
Sometimes I tear sheets out of my journal or workbook just so I can start afresh. I’m not afraid of starting afresh because I produce better when I do. When I get ideas for a poem and I start writing something down and I try and try and it just doesn’t make any sense, I let it go. I cancel it. Tear it up. Throw the sheet away. I put it in my past and tape it there. Then forget about it. I don’t like the past haunting me. I don’t like the what ifs. I want it gone. I want a clear mind to move forward.
It doesn’t necessarily mean I forget the idea I had for the poem, no. The idea is still there. The foundation is still there. It is the construction and the structure that changes. And for the better. It’s almost 100% guaranteed for me. I produce better.
It’s maybe why I keep a lot of journals. Because I need new pages every now and then. I’m a diarist. I recently found my diaries of 10 and 15 years ago with all sorts of things in them.
Maybe I’ll talk about that some other day.
But clutter, of any form, does not make me productive. It kills my creativity. I cannot write when my desk is a hot mess. I can’t concentrate. I feel like there’re lots of creepy little things standing on me.
It has the same effect on my life, as a person. Some years back, I deleted almost all of my contacts because I wanted to start afresh. That didn’t necessarily stop people from calling me, but it did stop me from calling people who were, more or less, not adding any kind of value to my life. It gave me a lot of space to breathe and allowed me to invest more of my time into profitable things and people.
I intend to do this often.
Another thing I do to declutter my life is that, once in a while, I turn my room around. I change the position of stuff. Like I shove the bed to the other end. I’ve been doing this for years. It leaves a feeling of newness, fresh start, and I like it. Sometimes my situations change for the better when I do this. It’s almost like my whole life turns around too, for the better.
I can’t imagine going through life without decluttering. I have learned, so far, in my life that things have to go. People have to go. To make room for others. To make room for all the better stuff.
It doesn’t mean I don’t care. It just means I care a lot about where my life is headed. People and things that make me a better person and a better writer get to come with me. Otherwise, they are left behind. They become part of a past. Part of all the things I appreciated, but had to let go to become a better person.