My daughter and I were enjoying the spring weather on Saturday by walking in the local Hatcher Gardens, a wild-crafted woodsy garden built in a former gully. Wild flowers are blooming, ducks and geese were in the small ponds, and the air was fragrant with flowers. But many of the bushes had been cut back over the winter, and instead of being slightly overgrown, the park seemed bare.
We could actually see almost all the way to the creek from the top edge of the park. When it isn’t overgrown and bushy, the place looks very small. A winding path seems much more peaceful when you can’t see the people six feet away on the next turn. It’s an illusion of space, and it will soon be filled with new, healthy growth. But for now, you can see just how limited the place is.
When I got home, I looked at the clutter on my dining room table and my workspace–piled nearly a foot deep with the flotsam and jetsam from the last few tasks still lying there…books, dishes, papers to be filed. I’m used to the clutter, and I am aware that many believe that clutter destroys focus.
But I wonder if I keep it there to make it feel like I have more space? Seeing all that jumble of stuff might make me feel that the space is there, if I would just take the time to clear it…but my dining room is about 10 feet square, no matter how much or how little stuff is in there.
The only way I can see to clear it is to get rid of my dining room table-a 42 inch diameter pedestal table and the oak office chairs that go with it. It won’t fit through my attic stairs. I don’t want to store it, and there’s not really anyone in the family who has room for it. There’s the history of it too, and some animosity that it’s at my house.
Anyone else could easily see that the clutter and the table keep me from using my time effectively, keep me from feeling comfortable and open in my workspace. But without the clutter, the room is still tight and cramped. The clutter gives an illusion of space available.
I need to dispel this illusion, even if I end up storing or giving up the table. How can I be true to myself, when I am living in my own illusions? For once, I can see the value of “neatness” which has always eluded me as virtue of itself. Maybe there is some change of consciousness happening here.