COLUMN: The declutter is worth the mutter

Have you ever thought about doing something for years? You saw the need and felt a certain amount of urgency to do it, yet somehow still kept putting it off? If your answer is yes then I’ve got some bad news for you – you are like me!

Frightening, I know.

But in the last month or so I actually started acting on the desperate need I have to “declutter” my home. Declutter is one of those modern words that I wonder about. I think in the old days we would have said, “Throwing away my junk,” or something to that effect. But declutter sounds so much classier doesn’t it?

Anyway that’s what I’m going with here.

Through the years I’ve managed to accumulate a lot of stuff. Things I don’t use anymore or even really want that much, but there they are. So I started off my declutter campaign by focusing on two categories: books and DVDs.

The DVDs were easy actually, and I only ended up with two boxes full of them that I set out on the road with a ‘Free’ sign on them. It took two days but then they disappeared.

The books, however, were another matter. I’m a huge reader and over the years accumulated a large library of military history books (one of my passions) as well as lots of fiction and of course many, many commentaries and other books on the Bible that I kept at the office. I gave most of those away to a church years ago, so now I’m down to all my personal books.

As I started sorting through them, I found something very strange happening to me. I’d look at a group of them and start to mutter to myself about the books. Somehow, and I’m not exactly sure how this happens, these inanimate objects had become very important to me. I felt a real emotional attachment to many, but not all, of them.

It was weird. Instead of being an old cat lady, had I become an old book man or something? Naturally these types of questions led to even more muttering as I argued with myself over getting rid of these things. In the past this was the precise point where I’d just quit and tell myself I’d do it later.

But not this time, because this time I had a plan!

I was going to sort the books into hardbacks and paperbacks and then give the hardbacks to the Library for their book sale, and the paperbacks to the jail to help beef up the library for the inmates. I wasn’t going to make any money off these things that I had spent so much on, but I was feeling good about contributing to my community.

So I began to sort with a passion. I muttered but didn’t let that stop my sorting. Soon I had two huge piles of books. I loaded up all the hardbacks – and man were some of those boxes heavy! – into my truck and took off for the library. As you can see from the picture, it wasn’t a small undertaking.

About two weeks later I did the same with the paperbacks. And now I’m happy to report that our jail probably has the best selection of military history books of any jail around! (I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing, isn’t it?)

So there you go: this phase of my mission is accomplished and I have to say I feel really good about it. Next are my tons of CDs and then the huge one – my gigantic comic book collection, which I’ve got to find a buyer for.

Sigh. It’s a lot of work, this decluttering, and is, I suppose, a First World problem. But it’s worth it. My own experience and studies show that decluttering does lead to more peace of mind. Not to mention a little bit more room in my one-bedroom trailer!

As I was doing all this, I couldn’t help but think about all the decluttering that I need to do in my inner life. All the junk we keep stored in our heads, all the hurts we keep dragging around with us and the resentments that attach themselves to our souls like barnacles and won’t let go.

Now there’s some serious decluttering for all of us to tackle. And in the end I know that will lead to an even more peaceful and harmonious heart and soul. So mutter if you must, but do declutter, and see if it isn’t worth it.

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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.

One comment

  1. Shannon Dzieciuch

    Congratulations on the declutter! It’s hard to do, especially with things that are enjoyed. I love to read, I listen to 4-5 audio books a week (is that still called reading?) I hate to even throw magazines away. I had to stop buying them. I also have to skip the used book area at thrift stores. I switched to all audio books. I paid $20 to the Town of Parker Library for non town resident card, and I paid $40 to the Phoenix library for an “out of area” resident card and downloaded the libby app. I can now listen to any audio book that those two huge networks library cards offer. There are tens of thousands of of books to pick from. Best part; I can read all I want and no more books to store, or travel to the library to pick up.

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