More Space

What’s this file?
Oh, a document I was editing for someone.
I don’t need that any longer.

One of the unexpected benefits of firing up my new computer — The universe offsetting the unanticipated costs, perhaps? — is that my desktop screen is gradually becoming tidier.

Tidier because I didn’t transfer everything? No. I did.

What’s in this folder?
Good heavens, this is two years old.
I don’t need that any longer.

Tidier because my self-discipline has suddenly increased? No. It hasn’t.

When was the last time I used this shortcut?
Oh. Never.
Well, I don’t need that any longer either.

Tidier, oddly, simply because larger. Tidier because on a larger screen, the same icons make less clutter. Tidier because I can see clearly now.

With more space, the anomalies stand out in a way that they didn’t when the screen was corner-to-corner full. As I get rid of things I no longer need, less cluttered leads to less clutter.

I’ve been here before.

When my physical desktop is piled high, I studiously ignore it. When there are two things out of place, I put them away or throw them away with little thought and less effort.

When my dresser drawer is a jumble of singleton socks, I cram more loose ones in and close the drawer quickly. But when I open a drawer of neat pairs of socks (like, hypothetically), I take the moment it takes to pair up the new arrivals, too.

When the garden is overrun, I am weed-blind. When one invader sticks its nose up, scouting out the lay of the land, I see it immediately and decapitate it in passing. Yes, yes, hypothetically.

Is this another example of the law of thermodynamics that deals with entropy, and the tendency of any isolated system to lose its order? No. Well, maybe. Those laws were never my strong suit in school, but I suspect that Kelvin and Clausius weren’t thinking of my desktops, drawers, or flower beds.

The effort involved to correct crazy disorder may be making me willfully blind, but clutter really does obscure what I can see. The useless, the old, the broken hunker down amidst the useful, the current, the in-good-repair. That’s true on my desktops, in my dresser drawers, and maybe in my mental filing cabinet as well.

As we get older, we believe fewer things
but we believe them more strongly.

Didn’t someone say that? Presumably, or how would it have ended up here? I have it filed as a statement on the gradual simplification of religious faith as we age.

It’s old, but I think I still need it. That, and a way to get more space, both around my stuff and, counterintuitive though it may be, between my ears.


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10 Responses to More Space

  1. Oh, the pain of empathy! In September, we moved from our upstairs bedroom in this old farmhouse to a downstairs bedroom — almost. How easy, now, to ignore the almost — almost. Those last few boxes and bags are the most difficult to sort, store, or part with. Every couple of days (or weeks) I steel myself to import a bundle or two (not into my office that still begs for more space) downstairs and deal with it. But I think the “between my ears” growth has to precede the action for anything like real change to happen.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Oh, yes, the easy wins are all at the start. And there’s maybe an 80/20 rule applying here also.

  2. Generally, I find myself on a down-hill slope with regards to stuff. In my thirties I was accumulating because I had a long, unknown future. Indeed most of that stuff was used and worn out. For the last number of years, I have been re-cycling, donating, selling (rarely, I haven’t the patience), and tossing stuff that survived, mainly through lack of realized purpose. Undoubtedly on that dreadful day that I have to move, piles of stuff that escaped will loom over the best of my past intentions.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – It’s amazing how there’s always more. But I know whereof you speak with respect to that downhill slope. We still acquire from time to time, but less all the time. And the disposing comes a little easier.

    • barbara carlson says:

      My dear, late friend JT had a house rule re stuff: If anything comes in, something has to go out. AND, he also had no-grocery-coupon policy. He also would not eat left-overs which his wife found “challenging” — this was 40 years ago, and doubt he’d get away with that now…

      • Isabel Gibson says:

        Barbara – Re coupons, there was a day when I used them carefully. I no longer have the patience – and am maybe pickier in my choices – but don’t rule them out completely. But a hard-and-fast rule is always easier to administer.

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    When Joan and I moved from Toronto to the Okanagan, we had good intentions of clearing out a lot of clutter, and taking only stuff that mattered. And indeed, we did get rid of a lot of “stuff”. But not enough.
    I suggest that clutter is itself a life form.
    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Its own life form, eh? Breeding in the corners of the basement, perhaps? That would explain a lot.

  4. Carla says:

    This is why moving can be cathartic I think! (And overwhelming, of course!)
    A friend recently told me a story about her 85 year old grandparents moving from an acreage to a considerably downsized home. Months later she was in conversation with a couple she met and they spoke about how much ‘stuff’ the previous owners of their place had left behind. They discovered that it was her grandparents they were talking about! She laughed — it boiled down to them running out of time and energy to get rid of everything before they had to move. There’s a big lesson in there, I’d say!
    My most recent laptop has a smaller screen than the last and I feel a little squeezed when I use it, but I’ve been forced to be tidier on it and that feels good.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Carla – Hahaha. And oops. When my parents finally decided the house was beyond them, we got them to take what they wanted for their new place, and then set about to get rid of the rest. A good portion of it ended up with one of the siblings; the rest was donated. I hadn’t thought about just leaving it, but I kinda like it. The new owners would find it easy to trash it all. (And yes, tidy feels good.)

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