things organised neatly

13 thoughts on “things organised neatly”

  1. Our current battleground is the middle shelf of the pantry, whereon resides our crockery and glassware. My idea of ‘full’ is ‘I can see everything, and grab anything with one hand’. There’s whitespace. When new crockery comes in, I discreetly shift some of the existing stuff from ‘online’ to ‘near-line’ (the cupboard over the how water cylinder) or ‘off-line’ (the shed).

    M used to keep up with the incoming crockery – we abandoned a 20Kg box of mosaic project stock at the old house – but he’s past his joyous-smash phase, these days.

    If it were down to me, there would be four cheerless eatin’ bowls and four forlorn eatin’ forks and that’s about it :/


  2. Wonderful exploration of the complexity of our relationship to stuff, Helen! I absolutely agree that a lot of writing about this topic is a little too simplistic and some of it is overtly moralistic. Being part of a couple is teaching me to see the subject in more and more nuanced ways.

    I fall into the category of folk who are very easily visually (and audibly, for that matter) stimulated so a more minimal setting (especially in my bedroom) is essential to my mental well-being. But my partner is less sensitive to colour and visual ‘noise’ and I absolutely adore other people’s organised clutter – so we find compromise.

    He’s also more sentimentally attached to objects, which makes perfect sense for someone so far from what remains of his family. It’s easier for me to let got of the ‘things’ that belong to my family when I still have my family near-by.

    I also like to feel that I could pack up my essentials and move on at any moment. My relationship to stuff is affected by that too.

    Sometimes I catch an echo of an old feeling that I am less ‘artistic’ because I don’t have the requisite amount of creative clutter. But these days I’m learning to trust that I know the balance that keeps me well – I can live with a lot more colour and clutter in the kitchen (where I don’t need the same calm and clarity that I need to sleep) and a lot less in my bedroom and office.


    1. I know just what you mean about ‘the right amount of creative clutter’ – I think I have been very tied to notions of artists being surrounded by creative clutter – I didn’t really know any artists growing up, so formed my ideas about what it meant to be an artist through what I read (when I was young, it was traditional young artsy person fare: lots of Beat poetry, Frida Kahlo, Frances Bacon). Being messy and chaotic seemed to go hand in hand with being creative. It’s good to get to a place of letting go of these ideas.

      I have a more ‘minimalist’ partner. He would live like a zen monk, if he lived alone. I think my cluttery ways drive him nuts sometimes. (That is him growling about the crockery cupboard in the comments here – lol!)


  3. I love this post, Helen. I love the line “human experiences are never simple.” I love walking into an op-shop and leaving without buying anything. I love hiow you’ve put into words something I’ve felt but never knew I felt.


  4. so much stuff and so much thought in your post. I seem to collect stuff (love the ‘collect’ connection made by Alice) to avoid thought. The guilt hovers imprecisely around the stuff and on the edges of my thoughts.


  5. Great post. I love to de-clutter. I’m a naturally hideously messy person – although I don’t like to be – and I find that clearing out a room or a wardrobe makes me feel like I have cleared my head. Interesting what Emma said about not getting too hung up on de-cluttering. I remember Laurice Gilbert responding in a similar way; I think she said something about it being a capitalist conspiracy to get us to buy more stuff. But, if you’re a rabid op-shopper (and I am), there’s a point to be made about not actually buying new stuff, giving to charities (as you said). However, I agree that, yes, you can get addicted to it and use it as a distraction etc. However, as far as distractions go, it’s a pretty bloody good one. And I love the idea that you get to give stuff to the op-shop that can find better homes, especially when it has been loved, but is no longer, but someone else could find it utterly perfect, inspiring and useful. In that way it’s a bit like getting out of a relationship that’s not working, so that they are free to love someone else. I find it really difficult to see things I love in op-shops though (things that I have donated) and always want to buy them back.


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