TD Jakes, in his book, Before You Do, tells of a humorous incident when a friend picked him up at the airport. When the friend opened his trunk to put in the suitcases, there was no room. The trunk looks like a traveling dumpster, containing a damaged tricycle wheel, motheaten blankets, an old set of golf clubs, used paper cups, paper bags, and wrappers from a mall food court, and other items not easily identified.
It reminded me that I had been shocked many times during my lifetime by friends and relatives opening the trunks of their clean, freshly waxed, luxury cars, only to reveal similar junk, hidden away from sight.
But not only in their cars. Sometimes I accidentally got brief glimpses of stuff hidden away in offices and homes, out of sight to the public. In homes, some people used kitchen cupboards, cabinets, junk drawers, closets, and even the space under the bed. In offices it might be desk drawers, filing cabinets, closed bookcases, and offsite storage units.
Yet their homes and offices appeared to be Immaculate, organized, and free of clutter. That mention of a trunk full of junk, and my recollections, made me take a good look at myself. Do I have clutter in the cabinet? Doo-dads in a desk drawer? Bric–a-brac under my bed?
Unfortunately, the answer was yes. Organizing and decluttering are not the same thing. If they were, I wouldn’t be able to organize my clutter. The items under my bed, in my desk drawer, and in that cabinet in the corner of my office, were all organized. I even used see-through plastic containers, a drawer organizer, and a see-through tackle box, to house some of the items. The old business cards were neatly kept together with elastic bands, the prized greeting cards were stacked in an attractive box from the Dollar Store, and all the articles I had clipped from magazines were still filed and labeled as to topic in one of the filing cabinets.
I say “were” because I just scrapped 90% of the items that I recovered from those secret hiding places. That old saying “out of sight out of mind”, is not entirely true either. Whenever I would spot someone else’s clutter, I was reminded of my own. And I always ended up promising myself then I would go through the stuff and get rid of it. Especially since I’m getting older and do not want to burden my children with them going through all the useless stuff after I’m gone. But I never had time, or so I thought. And we all know by now that unfinished tasks cause stress. And sometimes guilt.
I no longer believe that “you should give everything a home.” We should kick it out of our house or office, putting it, and ourselves, out of our misery. It cannot possibly be a good life cramped under a bed. And when you get rid of that hidden stuff, I recommend you get rid of the containers as well, whether they are plastic containers or wooden or steel cabinets. They seem to attract clutter. Especially the clutter that prefers privacy – like the junk in a trunk.