Being the 9th in a miscellany of short posts to mark the 12 days of Christmas.
For those of us with the tidiness gene/impulse/obsession, this is a great time of year, when we can indulge in socially sanctioned tidying. Better yet, we get to call it ‘cleaning out’, with none of the pressure to actually clean that comes, say, with the entirely arbitrary and unreasonable ‘spring cleaning’ obligation.
As one calendar year ends and another begins, many of us take the opportunity to clean out financial files, happily shredding stale documents—bank statements, credit card bills, investment reports—that are still kicking around. Some of us clean out closets and drawers, eliminating the too big, the too small, the not-worn-in-the-last-year. Some clean out the fridge, returning it to normalcy after the excesses of the recent feasting season. And some clean out their computers, eliminating pictures that seemed like a good idea at the time, deleting old versions and obsolete documents, and updating email lists.
Of course, the New Year isn’t the right time for all tidying. In our climate, cleaning out the garage lends itself better to those lovely first days of spring, when we look for any excuse to spend time outdoors, well before the yard needs attention. And cleaning out the basement lends itself more readily to an imminent household move, in whatever season, when the thought of actually paying to relocate this stuff brings an entirely different perspective on its value.
For those of us who have reached, ahem, a certain age—in more ways than one—maybe we can use this cleaning-out kick-start as a reminder to clean out our mental spaces. Biases and prejudices might be chopped up into little bits, the better to prevent their identification in case anyone is going through our cast-offs. Grudges might be—if not disposed of entirely—at least shelved, preferably in a well-labelled box. Opinions might be moved from the fat folder marked ‘Certainly’ to the skinny one marked ‘Maybe’. Belief structures might be re-examined and pared down to the essentials.
In our materialistic and wealthy society, you hear a lot these days about how we all have too much ‘shit’. Maybe that goes for what’s between our ears as well.