Lately while driving, I’ve been listening to Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin. This entertaining narrative is a sequel to The Happiness Project, the chronicle of her endeavor to improve her day-to-day outlook, over the course of a calendar year.
One of the ideas that’s resonating with me the most is Rubin’s unwillingness to give in to the clutter-clearing mania that periodically sweeps through our culture. While she spends some time organizing and simplifying her family’s apartment, she also recognizes the beauty and joy that objects often bring to her life. It’s an interesting stance to take, since clearing clutter is generally seen as a virtue, in contrast to extreme hoarding, like that of the Collyer Brothers, who weren’t vilified but certainly were pitied.
I don’t think I’d be classified as a hoarder; I do have a lot of magazines, but we can still walk around the house and I haven’t fashioned any of the stacks into booby traps. If that doesn’t make sense, go back and click that Collyer Brothers link!
I think we’re somewhere in the middle of the ascetic to hoarder continuum. I usually don’t mind some material chaos, especially in my own little studio area. I like having supplies close by, and a variety of media because you never know what will be inspiring on a given day. And of course there are many stacks of books. I go through clutter waves; a few months of stacking and piling and randomness building up, and then a few weeks of organization, but the purpose of the organization is just to set the stage for the subsequent months of creative buzz.
Sam is even more comfortable with chaos and clutter, and he often questions why he should organize his room. I know I’m supposed to be strong and crack the organizational whip, but really I have the same question. If a person is able to find what they want, when they want it (and he generally does), what’s the harm in letting him use an extremely loose system of organization?
Could it be possible that randomness and disarray might trigger alternative ideas and solutions to problems? Maybe our desire to reuse and recycle will come in handy someday.
What’s your reaction to clutter? Do you love it, hate it, or find yourself somewhere in the middle? How does the type of clutter change your reaction (i.e. papers, toys, household items, etc.)?