Middle Class American Clutter
Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first. (Location 392)
To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. (Location 738)
After living the urban lifestyle where a minimalist lifestyle is forced on people due to lack of storage space, coming back to the clutter of rural middle American homes gives a particular anxious ringing in my eardrums.
For some reason that isn't common literally anywhere else in the world as far as I've seen, lower-middle and middle-middle class Americans are obsessed with keeping their houses filled with junk. Core utility items in the house like stoves, laundry rooms and bathrooms fall into neglect as the counters and storage spaces overflow with expired useless trash.
In fact, this clutter is so pervasive that anthropologists have studied the pattern of cluttered American homes.
Repeated experiences like these teach us that if we take action we will be able to obtain the necessary information when we need it. Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something. (Location 2027)
A lot of these middle class homes are driven by scarcity -- this feeling of stockpiling "in case". But indeed, the stockpiling always backfires, and the stuff begins the process of owning its owner.
The line between hoarding and owning is crossed when clutter becomes dirty. When animals die in the corners of home, when a smell begins to waft through the air, when an electrical fire quickly spirals out of control by catching other items ablaze.
Every item in the line of sight is another item for the brain to process. Is this out of place? What should I do with it? Where does it belong?
When buying items, I follow a simple rule: how hard will it be to get rid of this? (202212160150) -- whether through re-selling, donation, or disposal.
Much like retirement (202212212242), embracing the change of life keeps us vibrant. By burying ourselves in komono (miscellany), we begin to atrophy, to shrivel under the weight of uselessness.
…had been so focused on what to discard, on attacking the unwanted obstacles around me, that I had forgotten to cherish the things that I loved, the things I wanted to keep. (Location 515)
The opposite is also true. Throwing items out is a vehicle to worship the items that you enjoy.
Luckily, my generation (millennials) pride ourselves on downsizing items. We see the folly in keeping things and stuff around as a salve for mental illness, and choose to pursue owning items that we love and not buying items we don't need in the first place. The wealthier among us even buy the highest quality versions of the things we love, knowing that they have a track record of being loved and offering a sense of pride.
Ruthlessly hold on to items that bring you joy, and apply just as much ruthlessness to removing items that have overstayed their welcome.
I remember reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on a plane and almost tearing up. The items humans own are deeply integral to our self conception and hoarding trash items because we have a bias towards loss means that we have a low perception of ourselves.
The criterion is, of course, whether or not it gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it. (Location 1022)
In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in. (Location 2062)