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Emotional Decluttering

The Virtual Mentor Archie P. Inlong

As we wallow in the notion that the Great Lockdown of 2020 may be nearing its end, we invite our readers to reflect on this question: what was the best thing you did during the with your time?

Read a book? Exercised and lost 10 pounds? Learned a new language? Mastered a musical instrument?

I did some of those. And, among the useful things I did, this one stood out:  I cleaned up my closet.

I have a big closet for the tons of stuff I have collected for the past 30 years and which I had crowded into a big pile of clutter. That’s the one I cleaned up.

So, on the day I decided I had more than enough time for a major decluttering, I stood in front of the big closet, slowly opened the door, smelled the mold and dust, and stared at the big expensive junk inside it piled high and looking like the barricade in Les Miserable.

I stood there thinking, “which one do I get rid of first”?

I decided I would work first on the things on hangers: old double-breasted suits with vests that have gone out of style 20 years ago; shirts with large Elvis Presley collars; wide neckties that look like bibs– and some had faces of Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse on them.

I pulled them out, folded them, and placed them on the floor. Believe me, that felt good!

Then, I went to the messy stuffy that were crowded in the smaller shelves of the big closet. I dug in and guess what I found folded and buried under the clutter: my fraternity jacket, sweat shirts with the logo of my university, tons of t-shirts with icons of places I may have visited at one time or the other– and all of which were obviously made in China. They were all medium-sized.


I pulled them out and dumped them on the floor. Believe me, that also felt good!

Then, I saw a large Tupperware-like storage box, opened it, and guess what I found: my old collection of VCDs and CDs! Movies, TV series, musical albums. I had the complete series of Golden Girls, the Nanny, and that famous pioneering TV classic I Love Lucy. I had the albums of Karen Carpenter and Barbra Streisand. I looked at them and said to myself, I can’t play these anymore.

I got them out of the box, dropped them on the floor. Again, that really felt good!

At last, I got the closet cleaned up!  The feeling – fantastic. It was quite an accomplishment.

Then, I got three big black trash bags.

I loaded the suits, shirts and ties into trash bag number one. Then, I paused and thought to myself:  why did I buy all these expensive clothing items? I realized they were my attractions. They were the things I bought on impulse. I thought that by wearing them, these attractions would make me attractive, that they would draw people to me.

Well, I don’t need the attractions anymore. I am attractive enough just by being me.

I tied trash bag number one with a tight knot, ready to go.

Trash bag number 2. The jackets, sweatshirts, t-shirts and shorts. Now, why did I collect all these now-useless stuff?  I realized they were my attachments. They reminded me of places and people which kept me locked up in the past. They were the stuff that were difficult to let go.

I don’t need these attachments anymore, I said to myself.  After all, I have already created a new life for myself. I am free and have moved on.

I tied trash bag number two with a tight knot, ready to go.

Trash bag number 3: the old VCDs and CDs. Then, I asked myself, why did I spend a lot of time watching and listening to these stuff in the past? Well, I realized they were my addictions. They were the things I thought I could not survive without. I listened to Karen and Barbra and I watched every Lucille Ball DVD a thousand times during the loneliest evenings of my life – when they were all I had for company.

I don’t need these addictions anymore. I have made my peace with myself, with others and with life. I mumbled: sorry, Karen, Rainy Days and Mondays no longer make me cry. Good bye, Barbra: I don’t care about the Way We Were anymore. My eyes are on what can be. Sorry, Lucille Ball, I probably don’t love the fictitious Lucy that much anymore.

I tied trash bag number three with a tight knot, ready to go.

There. I was ready to put them into the garbage bin.

I stood up, opened wide the closet door, and beheld the beauty of the Empty Space.

Now, I can fill it with the things that really matter: timeless things like the affirmation of friends, the affection of family, my aspirations for better things to come.

Dear readers: imagine this. Our hearts and our lives are like cluttered closets, stuffed with the attractions, attachments and addictions we have collected and crowded into our limited emotional space.

Don’t you think it may be time to clean up; to empty?

Wouldn’t this be the best time to declutter our limited emotional spaces?

If we dare clean up, empty and declutter, we just might get to fill that closet up with the timeless stuff that really matter.

Decluttering expert Marie Kondo – the author who became famous on Netflix – has a formula for finding out the answer to that question.

Each time she helped people fix the mess in their closets, rooms and basements, she would tell them to threw the big pile on the floor or on the bed. Then, she would ask them to retrieve specific items from clutter.

They were the items that brought people joy.

That joy is usually hidden in the clutter.

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