This holiday season, I have taken on a huge project: clearing clutter. While I don’t consider myself to have a huge clutter problem, I have way more stuff than I need, and I know it.
I started out this month with a commitment to clear the piles of magazines from my dining room table. With that on my mind, I noticed a book called “It’s All Too Much” in the Books on CD section of my local library. Peter Walsh’s book on clearing clutter became my listening of choice.
I quickly got inspired to clear more than just the magazines from my dining room table.
Fast forward to the last week, when I sloughed off enough paper and cardboard to fill two outdoor recycling bins. Today I got permission from a friend down the street to use hers for the excess I know I’ll be creating over the next week.
A week ago, up on some high shelves, lived a box of papers for each tax year, 2008 through 2014. Now all the documents I need for years 1996 through 2014 fit into one file box. Are you getting the picture of how many hours I spent getting friendly with my shredder? I am also letting go of magazines, cooking books, clothing, and more. I even brought a box of cassette tapes with my favorite music from 20 years ago to a local recycling center (what was I hanging on to those for? Did I really need to own the original Broadway soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar? Wait… did I make a mistake? Just kidding … sort of!)
One of the benefits of decluttering is finding treasures we had forgotten we had. I discovered things like my bar exam score, a business card holder with plastic windows which I filled with cards I want to keep, and notes I had taken on action items for my business. I even did some decluttering of emails, leading to discovery of some interesting blog articles I had been meaning to read.
One of the bittersweet surprises I found was a poem by my dad, who passed away almost 19 years ago. This wasn’t just any poem – it was the New Year’s poem he wrote heading into January, 1997 – the month he died unexpectedly of pneumonia. In honor of his memory, and in honor of the value of clearing clutter, I am sharing the poem here. You will see the irony in the words he wrote so close to his death.
When we awoke this morning, our alarm clock seemed to say
That though the sun was shining it was “just another day.”
Another day to love our mates, our kids, our friends, our life;
Another day of sturm and drang, of struggle, stress and strife.
Another day of wondering just what we’re doing here,
When suddenly an insight struck that made the answer clear:
We realized there’s no such thing as “just another day”
If life is filled with challenges each step along our way.
Each day is like a blackboard where nothing yet is writ.
The dates that dot our calendars are bulbs that no one’s lit.
To fill our slates and light our bulbs is not enough unless
The filling and the lighting come with true creativeness.
Retirement’s call is distant; it doesn’t tempt us yet.
We’ve highs and lows and in-betweens still waiting to be met.
We thrive upon those challenges that suddenly appear;
Each problem solved along the way makes life seem far more dear.
The challenges that please us, we can’t anticipate;
A platter filled to overflow’s what we appreciate.
So if you ask us when we’ll quit, the answer’s “We don’t know.”
Just like the poet, Robert Frost, we still have miles to go.
Looking to a loving, peaceful and productive year,
Marcia and Frank Bernstein
I think clearing out the old makes room for the new that my father anticipated in the coming year. May you have plenty of space for new adventures and connections as 2016 draws near!