Spring Cleaning

My first car was a Chrysler Colt. It was a small car and I had to turn off the air conditioner to accelerate onto a highway, but it was all mine and I loved driving it. After about 9 years and over 100,000 miles, it began to require major repairs. A month or so after one part was replaced, another part would break.

One afternoon as I was leaving work, I discovered a long scrape down the passenger side of my car. Someone had misjudged pulling into or out of the space beside me and had dragged their bumper down the length of my car. I was upset for a few minutes as I stared at the damage and then it dawned on me that how it looked was no longer of any consequence. I had to buy a new car soon and I just had to keep this car running until then. With that thought came a feeling of freedom. If it got a scape or another part started to fail, so be it, and I stopped being concerned about the Colt’s condition.

If the world is divided into those who are packrats and those who are not, without a doubt I fall into the packrat category. I am not very good about throwing things away. Though I may not have used something for five years, who knows, I may find a need for it next week. Even worse, sometimes I do, which immediately justifies keeping everything else. I have a friend who is my opposite. She goes on cleaning sprees and weeks later realizes she threw away something important like a bill she had not paid. When she tells me about this, I find it even harder to declutter.

In truth, the majority of the time the things themselves are not the problem, it is the emotional attachment I have to them. Realizing it was pointless to fix the Colt’s scrape released my attachment to it. I have a harder time throwing away a gift received years before or a postcard sent by a friend. I know in many cases it is not practical to keep these items, but the emotion is there.

As the winter comes to a close, it is the classic time for cleaning house. A good spring cleaning clears away staleness and opens the house to the light and warmth of the season. This is an optimum time to clear away the clutter that has accumulated over the year.

Clutter is not just the physical items we hang onto long past their useful life, but can also be the thoughts and routines in which we have become stuck. Do you find yourself repeatedly reviewing events or conversations from your past or continuing to follow a routine that no longer serves you? Can you let it go? Just like physical objects, these all have emotions attached to them and it is easier to hang on to them than to release them. However, just like cleaning house, the freshness that is created by mental spring cleaning allows more space and freedom in your life.