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Discard This Article During Spring Cleaning

Drunk Jedi Wisdom: Kinda Master Your Life by Following the Crooked Path of the Drunk Jedi

The bike I made, its tires glowing with magic.

The bike I made, its tires glowing with magic.

You know what I don’t like? Knick knacks. People see a blank space on the wall, so they put up shelves, and then they go to Pottery Barn and buy little mass produced things to put on the shelves. Vases with artfully placed bubbles in the glass. Plates with designs on them, which can’t actually be used as plates because they are “for decorative use only.” Mosaic candle holders that are pretty enough if you actually put candles in them, but the people I’m talking about don’t ever put candles in them. At least, not candles they ever light.

It seems like such a waste to me. The knick knacks don’t have any sentimental value. They aren’t necessary, and neither is the shelf. The whole arrangement does nothing but gather dust. This creates more house cleaning, which wouldn’t need to be done if the useless trifles and unnecessary shelf had never been put up in the first place.

Maybe the time spent shopping for knick knacks and making sure the shelf was straight on the wall could have been spent volunteering at a soup kitchen. Okay, that’s a little preachy. It could have been spent cooking or reading. Creating something that would actually be useful to someone, or enriching yourself.

Some may say the knick knacks are enriching the space with a touch of personality and beauty. But most of the time, once those things are put up, the residents of the home pass through those rooms blindly, not noticing them.

The knick knack shelf may aid house guests in forming judgments and opinions, though. “Ah, these people have a rustic mini rocking chair and a rag doll holding a sign with the word ‘love’ on it. They are old fashioned and welcoming. I think I smell fresh bread baking.”

I think it is this same “knick knack” impulse that goads us to fill silences with small talk, and fill all our closets with stuff.

We have this need to fill every blank space, every empty corner and every silence with something. Anything. It doesn’t have to be useful. It doesn’t have to have meaning.

Time and time again, I’ve seen friends and family fill up the space they have with useless things, or things they use once or twice and then forget about. One of my uncles has a three car garage, but can’t fit a single car in it. It’s too full of other stuff, like exercise equipment, old toys, and a broken Jet Ski. He isn’t a hoarder. The rest of his house is clean, considering he’s got two kids. He just had the space, and it got filled up.

I fall victim to this, too. Several years ago, I was obsessed with getting a bike. There was a bicycle-shaped hole in my life (on my wall). Having a bicycle would, I knew, help me achieve the exercise routine I’d always wanted, while also shaping me into a more environmentally conscious person. I even volunteered fifteen hours at a bicycle garage to have the chance to build my own.

I was so proud of the bike I built. It was cherry red, with a clear ringing bell, white-wall tires and wide cruiser handlebars. But it was a little too big for me, and was kind of uncomfortable to ride. The first time I tried to mount it, I fell over and it landed on top of me. I ignored this rather painful experience (because I am an optimist, damn it), and my discomfort, because the guys at the shop assured me this was the best bike. And I had built it myself!

I rode that bike maybe seven times before it became a burden. I dragged it around with me for a year or so before I came to my senses and sold it. I just didn’t have any room for it in my place (or my life). But if I’d had a three car garage, guess where that bike would be?

All this clutter doesn’t just take up physical space. It affects our minds, too. It forces us to multi-task on some level, even if we’re not consciously aware of it. We hold on to old stuff, physically and mentally. We imagine emptiness that needs to be filled, and then we fill it with clutter. (We do this with relationships, too–imagining emptiness and filling it with people who don’t really do much for us. Another topic for another article.)

SOMETHING’S MISSING, an insatiable voice inside us is shouting. YOU ARE FALLING SHORT.

This voice likes to say bad things about us.

First it’s, THAT WALL IS HIDEOUS, YOU CALL YOURSELF A HOMEMAKER? YOU ARE SO UNINTERESTING.

Then it’s, THAT SHELF IS SO DUSTY, YOU CALL YOURSELF A HOMEMAKER? YOU ARE SO DISGUSTING.

You can imagine what that voice said to me about the bike situation.

This spring, as we go about our “spring cleaning,” let’s try to see through the clutter. Try to simplify. If we haven’t used something in over a year, let’s toss it out or donate it. If something in our homes or in our lives is only creating more pain or work, or is just taking up space, out it goes.

And if we find ourselves facing the empty spaces, let’s resist the urge to fill them with something just for the hell of it. The Universe abhors a vacuum, and if we keep those spaces empty long enough, it might be that something truly nourishing and wonderful will come to fill them. Just a hunch.

***

L. Marrick is a historical fantasy writer and freelance copywriter. She waxes poetic about swords and the Renaissance Faire at <a title=”Go to L. Marrick’s blog” href=”http://leslie-hedrick.blogspot.com/” target=”_blank”>her author blog</a>. She looks all professional-like at <a title=”Go to Leslie’s copywriting site” href=”http://lesliehedrick.com/” target=”_blank”>her copywriting site</a>. She eats too much chocolate and still doesn’t believe downward dog is supposed to be a restful yoga pose. You can connect with her at either of her websites.


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