Advent photo challenge: “Free”


This is a photograph of my desk. Well, one of my three desks, actually. I have a writing desk in the living room, where I sometimes work on special projects, or plans, or jigsaw puzzles. I have a stand-up desk for my computer, but it also is a sit-down desk when I am tired and perch on a tall barstool, as I am doing now. The desk in the photo is the desk where I plan, sort through papers and ideas, and make phone calls. It is usually covered with papers, books, various electronic devices such as cameras and iPods, a scattering of pens and pencils (mostly buried under the paper so that I can’t find one, so I grab another from the stash, and it too, disappears), highlighters, tape, scissors, dirty coffee cups and snack bowls, my purse, a tote bag or two…well, you get the idea.

Today, my desk is clean for one reason only. We had a party tonight. Everything that was on my desk this morning is now stashed in the closet or the window seat. We call it doing the stash-and-stow or the stash dance. It’s what you do when you are a clutter bug, and company is coming.

I hate doing the stash-and-stow, because invariably, the stuff that is stashed stays stowed until I desperately need it, or until the closet is bursting, and I can’t stand it any longer. That’s when it all comes back out, ostensibly to be sorted, but often just collecting on the surfaces in my office again. 

I’ve been wrestling with some ideas for my businesses recently, and I’ve had a hard time coming to clarity. I can’t seem to think very effectively about what project to work on next. But when I cleared my desk and other surfaces today, suddenly I felt more free than I had in a good while. My brain felt less cluttered, too.

I have made many attempts to get organized and stay that way, but today, for the first time, I felt differently about what my workdays could be like, if it weren’t for the clutter. I could be more free if I could keep it from taking over. Free to think more clearly. Free to dream without being interrupted by thoughts of the bills hiding somewhere in the piles on the desk. Free to invite friends over without having to do the stash dance!

I’m not ready to say my cluttering days are over, but I am ready to say my thinking about clutter has changed. I no longer see it as another housekeeping failure in my long history as a semi-slob, but as a barrier to my happiness. I know that changing my thoughts is the first step in changing my life. Maybe this time, I will find my way free of the clutter trap.