Today, I am feeling a little bit suffocated.
You see, I live in a very small house, with three other people and the walls appear to be closing in on us. Without an Alice in Wonderland “drink me” solution, we have only one option and that is to tackle all our stuff. Which is mostly mine.
The problem with being a scanner is that almost everything can be interesting at some point or another, and I’m not great at throwing anything away. Although, I think that living with a scanner is even more problematic, but you’ll have to ask my husband about that. He did say that he’d follow me to the ends of the Earth yesterday which was rather lovely, but I do think that on a day to day basis, I drive him crazy. Anyway, I digress… My hoarding nature means that the house is littered with half-finished projects, books on a myriad of subjects and six months’ worth of all the magazines I buy. It is also not an overstatement to say that every surface in my house is covered with a random assortment of casually tossed aside detritus from each day; endless pre-school drawings, tyres from toy cars, odd socks, clothes pegs, biros, bits of loose change and one one memorable occasion from last week, a pile of dried out rabbit droppings from a nature walk.
Add to that, my two darling children and their seemingly endless array of toys, vegetable seedlings for the allotment growing on the windowsills and you have a recipe for chaos. There is no wonder the cat has a permanent expression of panic on her face.
The wonderful writer Lesley Garner, in her book ‘Everything I Have Ever Done That Worked’ wrote an essay called Integrate or Disintegrate. Her basic argument is that every new thing you introduce into your life has to integrate with what is already there, in order for it to be a success. As I stare at the teetering pile of unread books gathering dust next to the side of my bed, I think she has a very valid point. I need to clear some space, and make some room for new things to enter my life.
The truth is I need to be brutally honest with myself about what should stay and what should go. I have already sold several items of clothing that belong to a life I no longer have. There is not much call for designer heels on the allotment. I have also begun to take books, some of which have truthfully never been opened, to the charity shop. I am embracing the library for all my paperback novel reading these days. Not to mention all the books I borrow on whatever subject takes my fancy. The librarians have become used to my pick-n-mix reservation requests.
Now, it’s onto the rest of the house. Will I ever finish the cross stitch I started in 2006 when I was pregnant with my daughter? There will not be much appeal in a Beaxtrix Potter Alphabet sampler unless I finish it soon. How many cook books do I have that I have never cooked anything from? (Truthfully though, I do consider just reading great cookery books to be a hobby in its own right, but it would be a good idea to have a go at cooking some of the food created in those pages instead of salivating enviously over the photos and then having another piece of toast.) Will I really ever get into those size 10 jeans again? Why do I even have a chess board, when I cannot play? How many Paris guidebooks does one person really need? And so on, and so on.
Once all of those questions have been answered, and I have removed anything that I honestly shouldn’t be keeping, it’s on to the fun part of trying to tidily store what is left. Which, lets not kid ourselves, will still be far too much. Sitting here in my bedroom, I can see a stash of children’s face-paints on the top of the wardrobe, three cameras on my bedside table and a half strung guitar resting against the wall for starters. I am going to need a trip to Ikea for lots of storage.
But getting rid of the stale things, those that I will never re-start, that are just littering my house like fallen comrades on the search for happiness, will free not only my house but also my mind. With space to breathe again, I can make a fresh start. The old will have given way for the new, exciting things to come my way. Which, to a scanner, is pretty much the reason for living.