Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nesting Catharsis

About once a year, I get ants in my pants and prune the house. It always starts off small – an earring I can’t find, or the quest for some AA batteries. Whatever the catalyst is, I start at one corner of the house and go through every drawer, dresser, closet, and cabinet until all of its contents are identified and organized. If it's ripped, stained, broken, or I'm bored of it, it gets donated or goes in the trash. Every time, I find an insane amount of wasted space. Old mail, items still in the packages, useless bits of things the vestigial hoarder in me saved with the intention of somehow using them later... they fill trash bags and amaze me. I wonder how so many items crept into my life over the course of a year; how they nestled into drawers and cabinets, forgotten, while I moved on to other things. I wonder how my sticky notes got in the arts and crafts box, or why my satin ribbons are in with the miscellaneous electronics, hopelessly tangled around spare USB wires. Often I find small unfinished projects, like the forlorn pieces of a flower pot I'd promised myself I would glue back together.

Sometimes I think that the things I come across when I go through my cabinets are like a physical metaphor for the journey through life. Some projects, like the flower pot, are started with the best of intentions, but slip through the cracks because in the grand scheme of finishing homework, keeping the bills paid, doing some research, and keeping my relationship, friendships, and pets alive, life gets in the way. Finding those broken pieces of clay reminded me that it's not always about the big stuff; it's important not to forget the little, inconsequential things that only matter because they make you happy. I wasted about 5x5 inches of space in my home this year and lacked a flower pot I really liked for want of 5 minutes to glue something back together. I'm sure something important called me away, and I tossed it into the cabinet, a simple, "I'll do that later" whispered in my mind. This morning, over a crisp glass of raspberry juice, I glued those pieces back - and I was happy. Even if it didn't happen as quickly as I would've liked, I eventually kept my promise to myself .

I think that's why I like pruning- it feels like coming full circle on all of the things that got procrastinated away. Often we procrastinate because we feel pressured, and the minor things just get put off until they become a figment of clutter-blindness, trapped in an indefinite limbo of 'getting done one day'. Going through and tying up all of those loose ends feels cathartic, in a way.

I think everyone wakes up sometimes feeling overwhelmed- but even feeling buried is a gift, and digging ourselves out of the hole can be a wonderful adventure. When I'm under pressure, I take time to consciously recognize how important it is to praise God for our trials. I am so thankful that I feel pressured because I've got too much family to see, too much homework to do, and too many belongings in my home. I'm thankful that there are people in my life that I love enough to miss sorely. I'm thankful for the hours spent writing seemingly endless boring term papers, because those hours spent mean that I have access to an education, which many men (and many, many more women) do not have. If I have to go through my home and donate things because our cup literally runneth over, I should be overjoyed, because that means that we have extra things when so many other people have nothing. Being thankful for our trials sheds joy into every shadow of our lives.

It's okay not to get everything done on time all the time. No one is perfect, and no one has time to do it all- but it's important to make time to make yourself happy, no matter how many other pressing matters call for your attention. Find your flower pot, and be thankful for the time you have.


  1. A beautiful post. And, you are right, sometimes when you are able to put something together which was once broken is like a renewal of the entire life cycle with an abundance of new energy and spirit. Warm regards....

    1. Thank you very much for the compliment and for reading. You summed that up perfectly!