Danger Under the Clutter!


My husband spent the greater part of Labor Day cleaning out his half of our garage. He runs a wood flooring business so over time he has collected several piles of left-over wood flooring. Various tools also clutter the shelves and floor along the perimeter. One corner in particular was an awful mess. Over the course of the summer, this corner located near the garage entrance had become the collection site of all the little things my husband had not had time to find a place for. Originally, this spot had been designated for a specific saw he rarely used. He had used it a few times to remove the groove from the bottom of flooring in order to make book shelves. Due to the demands of work, though, this great tool used to rid our garage of an endless bone yard of wood scraps, had simply become a resting place from broom handles to bungee cords and empty nail gun cases.

Eventually, my husband sorted through the mess and uncovered the saw. As he pulled it out of its stationary position, he discovered a massive spider’s web containing dozens of sacks and the mother of them all. Apparently, the mother spider was so huge and hideous he killed it immediately so that I wouldn’t see it. He destroyed the sacks of eggs as well, leaving only a few cobwebs behind. As grateful as I was that this spider’s breeding ground was gone, I was distressed that a potentially poisonous threat to our home had grown undisturbed and unnoticed for so long.

It got me to thinking about the clutter of life and how if we don’t deal with it on a regular basis, dangerous things can grow in our hearts over time. We can make the excuse that we don’t have time to deal with this or that. This tool can help us make the most of our resources in time. That small stuff will be useful to us one day. On the one hand, we make excuses for why we can’t use what’s useful, and on the other, we insist on keeping those things that only create a bigger burden. Either way, we simply set it in the corner, covering up the deeper, more serious issues until we don’t see them and eventually don’t realize they even exist.

I can’t speak for my husband, but it seems to me that men in general do a much better job at pretending that their “clutter” is a pile of useful tools that will one day improve their life. As a woman, clutter gets to the deepest part of me. It keeps me from resting, makes me irritable and prevents me from being productive on the days I need to be. I have cleaned out and organized my office space at least six times since my husband has cleaned out his garage space. I admit there is always a small spider web or two in a corner or under my desk, but I would be absolutely horrified if I found a nest containing a spider, which according to my husband, was the circumference of an unused roll of Scotch tape!

Then again, perhaps my coping mechanism is to create a clutter-free environment on the surface while I ignore the webs growing in my heart. My task-list becomes my excuse as I pile up my feelings like spare tools that will be useful one day, but that I just don’t have time for today. If there is not a good enough reason to have the feeling, if it can’t be justified at the moment, then it goes in the corner. The result, I fear is a dangerous build-up of toxic emotions that are now manifesting themselves as chronic pain across my body.

Unfortunately, the pain cannot be quickly stomped out and swept away like an unwanted spider and her eggs in the corner of the garage. It has taken 35 years to accumulate and though “they” say this pain will never go away completely, there is a lot I can do to keep the clutter down to a few manageable cobwebs.

The process is only beginning, but I am grateful that today I am more aware of the importance to acknowledge the “stuff” in my life and to deal with it here and now. If it’s not useful to me today, then out it goes! As I told my husband yesterday while he hesitated between tossing out a tube of porcelain repair goo and keeping it in the “yard sale” pile: “Honey, you do wood floors! You don’t need it. Besides, what are the odds that some random person is going walk up to our yard sale and say, ‘do you have anything to repair a crack in my toilet?’”

Seriously, there are some things that are just NOT worth holding on to!

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