Tag Archives: clutter

September 10, 2015

Aristotle is credited with postulating that nature abhors a vacuum, the idea that whenever there is an empty space, matter will rush to fill it in. Although he lived in the 4th century BC and since then later philosophers and scientists have debated his idea passionately, the Greek philosopher had a pretty good sense of how humans live their lives and occupy space, especially in the world today. The term Horror vacui can be applied to the way we build our cities, occupy our homes and use our containers.

Continue reading September 10, 2015


March 17, 2015

Since late last year, I’ve been aware of Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which was released in the US in October 2014 and has become a huge best-seller here as people battle with their belongings. Kondo is a Japanese de-cluttering expert who has taken the world by storm with her almost mystical approach to organizing stuff and purging ourselves of things we don’t need in our lives. Her attitude is ruthless but kind at the same time. She believes that our belongings should “spark joy” in our lives, and each of them should have a place that they can call home. Without a home, an object sits on a surface and becomes clutter. If our belongings don’t make us happy – like that beige sweater that was never flattering or the books we know we’ll never actually read – we should get rid of them. But before that, we should thank them for their service. In her method, which involves getting rid of what we don’t need and then organizing what remains, she sees no place for storage bins or other organizing tools. If we only have what we need, we will have plenty of room to house it all.


One of her main rules is to purge in one go, and not create “maybe” piles for belongings that might be allowed to stay. She argues that once the purge has been done, good habits can take place. She might not approve of my daily giveaway approach, but then, my goal is not simply to get rid of stuff, but also to focus on the people in my life. However, because she has such a simple, respectful and magical approach to stuff, today, in her honor, I adopted her “organized purge” approach to some of my drawers, going through undergarments, socks and t-shirts and throwing away those items that always bother me a bit and those that I never seem to need. I filled a plastic bag full of these and headed for one of the yellow Planet Aid Clothes and Shoes bins close to our home (http://www.planetaid.org). Thanking the items I used for their service and the ones I hadn’t used for their patience, I dropped the bag into the bin and hoped that some of the items might “spark joy” in the lives of a recipient half way across the world.

January 3, 2015

It is amazing how quickly clutter accumulates in our lives. Soon after our the upset of our fire, we began acquiring again, mainly items to tide us over until our clothes, kitchenwares, and furniture were cleaned. One such item was a pine coffee table that I bought for Theo’s room as a Lego play table. We were renting furniture, but he only had a bed and a dresser and was playing with his Legos on the floor. I had stopped by my favorite local thrift store Out of the Closet, and I remember my excitement at finding such a lovely table for only $15 and then when I was able to fit it in the back of my new Prius C (bought to replace my adorable red VW Beetle which did not survive the fire.) For over a year, the table served Theo well. However, when we returned to our home, it was too big for his new room so I stored it in the garage thinking for sure I would find some use for it again.


But like so many objects we hold onto for sentimental reasons or because we think they might come in handy, the table soon joined the ranks of clutter, taking up space but serving no real purpose in our lives. We pulled it out to hold games for our New Year’s party, but today – even though I noticed one of our cats enjoying its cover – I chose not to heave the heavy table back down to the garage, where it would sit indefinitely not being used. I heaved it back into my Prius and drove back to the same Out of the Closet store. Since I admire both the mission and the witty name of this AIDS healthcare charity, and because I shop there often and I know and like the staff there, I wanted to give them the chance to sell the table again. Perhaps another mother with a Lego-loving child might see it and be as thrilled as I was to find it.