Simplicity, Clutter, Compassion, & Love

Many regular readers know that, when it comes to simplicity and clutter, my wife is quite my opposite. Her idea of organization is generally to sort piled things into more piles. These piles then sit right where they are waiting for something to happen and that something is generally a mystery that results in nothing happening. Then, there is also the matter of a three year old little girl who’s belongings are strewn about as well and… Well…

Thus, it is not unusual for one to walk into the home of Mr. Minimal Mac and find things not so minimal at all. 

That said, it is a real struggle for for me that I largely keep inside. Because, getting any cognitive or creative work done in such environs is very difficult for me. I have become pretty good at ignoring it for a time or finding a little spot in the house where I can keep some semblance of order (or ignorance). But, even that becomes beset on all sides and impossible to contain eventually.

It is at this point where I finally snap, reach a fever pitch, and spend all night cleaning. This happened just this past Saturday night. After a long day out and about and a very enjoyable evening with friends I came home and realized that I could not even answer a single email, let alone start another full week, with the clutter that had slowly begun to consume every surface. And since the burden appears to be one I bear alone in my household it is generally I who must lay said burdens down and put them in their proper places.

Now, to those in a similar situation as mine, please keep in mind that to those others in our life, the clutter may have cognitive value to them in the same way simplicity and order do for you. For instance, those piles may represent a sense of belonging and place to them. Seeing all this stuff they have makes them feel comfort in knowing it is not lost or missing. It actually may be a representation of how productive they are. So productive in other areas of life that they don’t have the time to clean and organize. It may also be overwhelming to them as well, so much so that they are paralyzed by it. 

All I’m saying here is that our goal of uncluttered simplicity is likely just as strange and wrong and foreign to those who are the opposite as they are to us. Compassion and acceptance are required on both sides. The (often imperfect) path I attempt is to allow my wife to see that it is I who is willing to take responsibility and ownership for my needs in this area, doing the work to see that those needs are met, while allowing her to be who she is without judgment.

This is not always easy, I know. I struggle with it daily. Then again, are these things ever easy? Perhaps they should not be. The work is proof of it’s continued worth. And, she is worth so much to me that such work seems like a bargain.