When I was a kid my grandparents had a great cleaning lady, Marcie. When it was her day to come clean the house my grandmother would snap at us to pick up our rooms. This always confused me. If Marcie was coming, wasn’t it her job to clean the house? My grandmother explained it to me once – “DO YOU WANT HER TO KNOW WE ARE ANIMALS?” Marcie cleaned my grandparent’s house for over 40 years, I figured she knew us well. Marcie was a “life organizer” before anyone knew what that meant. My grandmother still lives by the motto, a place for everything and everything in it’s place.
This week my sister sent me two books. The first was that bestseller the Japanese art of tidying. You know the one that all your friends are talking about but only one friend is actually doing. I am looking forward to reading it. I like the idea of getting rid of the clutter that is in my house by letting go of the things I do not want or need.
I have pants in my closet that have never fit. They have been there so long that even if I lost the weight I wouldn’t wear them. I am not sure why I can’t get rid of them. Maybe because it makes me feel like I am giving up on a goal? I also keep greeting cards that people send me. Not because they say anything profound. Most the time they are just signed without even a personal message. I keep saying I am going to throw them out and then I keep them so I remember to send a card next month to the sender. And then I promptly forget about it. It is not a good system.The book apparently teaches that if you get control of your clutter you get control over your life. More control sounds good.
Which brings me to the second book she bought, the title says it all. The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck – how to stop spending time you don’t have with people you don’t like doing things you don’t want to do, is supposed to be a parody of the first book. I am more excited about reading this one. I have some folks that I might need to “clean” out.
For example my “friend” who we will call Clueless Candy. You’ve met her, she is the one that is either offensive or hurtful, neither is on purpose. A few months ago I had my nails done and spoke to Candy after. She asked if I liked them and I responded that I picked the wrong color, that they looked childish to me. When I met up with her later, she looked at my nails and said, “I see what you mean (pause) but I don’t think they look childish (pause) they look old ladyish to me.” She followed up with, “It is not like you really follow the trends though, so its ok for you to wear. I would never but then I am much more in style.” I think she was trying to tell me I have my own style?
Or the “friend” that makes you the backup plan – “I have dinner tonight but it may cancel, if it does want to go to dinner? I should know around 5” or “I bought tickets to this show and I asked Grady. If he can’t go I asked Drew, but if neither of them can make it, I would love to have you come….” My internal voice wants me to sarcastically shout, “well sure, I would love to be your back up, back up plan. I feel so honored.” Then again, it is an invite, right?
Or the friend who says “I just need a small favor, it should only take about 30 minutes. Can you come over?” When you leave the house NINE HOURS later you realize that your not sure why they needed your help or what you did to help but your out a day.
Letting go is hard even when things seem beneficial. Letting go of things, letting go of people or even of long held beliefs can be one of the toughest things to do. One of the biggest fears I have is that I will live in a house with no one in it because I have “cleaned out” my life. And although I dream of having my own Marcie to be my “life organizer” (and I am going to organize those closets) I don’t think I am ever going to be completely in control of the clutter in my life.
As I get older I realize life is messy. People bring drama and tears but they also bring love and laughter. I am going to read both books, donate those pants, wear any nail polish I want, toss the cards and laugh and cry with all the folks I am blessed to have in my life. My house and life may not always be organized but I am letting go of worrying about it.