As a person who consistently takes myself way too seriously – and all of life with me – I have decided it is my goal in life to be able to answer, “Great” (or good or wonderful or peachy or some such thing) in the drive-thru or grocery store when asked in passing, “How are you?”
I am such a heart-on-my-sleeve, truth-telling sort of person that previously the Schwan’s man has been known to find himself at the professional end of a counseling session following his casual greeting at the door. I once heard a preacher or some such person say that it is horrible to answer “fine” to the question, because – I don’t know – it’s lame I guess. And that we shouldn’t actually answer it with a feeling word at all but with a decision word, e.g.: How am I doing? I’m working toward the greater good of humanity and the bettering of my own soul on a daily basis, thanks for asking! And on top of all my other flaws, I remember random things like this and take them so to heart that I literally choke over the words, “Fine” or even “Good” when someone asks this totally rhetorical question.
I choke both because they aren’t doing words (even though I really don’t think that sermon was meant to be taken quite so literally) and because from my home to wherever it is that I am when you ask the question, I have probably been having a deeply internal conversation with myself about how I’m doing. I’m thinking about every part of life and whether it’s measuring up to my ideals and if it’s my fault if they aren’t – stuff like that. And typically I get sort of angsty about these things. So you ask how I’m doing, and I’m all, “Let me tell you.”
But when I say that it is my goal in life to be able to answer “Great” without choking, I don’t mean that I intend to learn to lie. I mean that I have discovered the secret to actually being great if I will only continue to do it. It’s the hoola hoop method all over again, courtesy of my mama, recycled by Leo Babauta as the blog post: Decluttering as Zen Meditation. (If the word “zen” freaks you out as some sort of anti to your religion, don’t stress. This is really good; I promise.)
The theory is to declutter your house one item at a time, facing your needs/issues/past/present/dreams, etc., as you go, and therefore arrive at zen (or peace, if you prefer the word. I like them both). So you take one item (a la ‘the thing in the hoola hoop’ as my mother used to advise when I cleaned my horrible room as a child) and you consider it.
Ahhh, don’t you love it already? ONE item. Consider. Such a calming principle.
Does the thing belong in your life RIGHT NOW? That’s the basic question as I interpret it. Babauta (an agent-mate by the way with some seriously life-changing posts on his blog if you ever want to browse) suggests we don’t need to hold onto things from the past. I say I don’t need to hang onto very many things from the past. He says to also let go of the things we just think we might use in the future. I say Christmas decorations and wrapping paper and flashlights and such are probably an exemption to that. Still. I love the theory so much. And I’ve been doing it.
Every single day I’ve thrown away at least one unnecessary thing in my house. (Mismatched socks on the dryer? Really? Why do I hang onto them so long? The high heels that cost about 7 dollars from Payless and broke the first time I wore them? WHY were they still in my closet? So I could strip them someday for PARTS?) And with every item, it’s like I’m checking things off that virtual list constantly buzzing in my head of things I should be doing. I sort the socks, I sort my thoughts. I clean the shelf, I clean my soul.
It’s peace-retrieving, this activity. It’s single-minded (because whoever suggested multitasking as a positive thing should have to multitask in hell. I feel). By the time fall rolls around again my home will be more decluttered than ever before, and you won’t even believe the zen-ness of my soul.
What do you think? Are you in?