Kristina Beers: Clutter is the enemy of peace and serenity

By Kristina Beers

Special to the Pioneer

I love to collect old kitchen paraphernalia, especially things a woman would have used in a utilitarian way. Basically, that means I’m not a fan of things such as silver tea sets, but drool over a flour sifter that is half worn out. I go nutty over a manual nut grinder (pun intended!) and can stare at an aluminum cake holder for what my husband has deemed “absurdly long.”

I don’t go crazy over the newest gadget, however. I tend to seek them out, but when I borrow or try them usually I’m left wanting and return to an older way. Show me a brand new Oster and I’ll shrug my shoulders; show me a vintage Hamilton Beech and I’m captured for an hour.

Which leads me to one thing I need to beware of: clutter. Clutter is the enemy of all persons striving for inner and outer peace and settlement. I can accumulate kitchen items like some ladies accumulate shoes. I could also liken it to accumulation such as a man with tools, but I have come to the clear understanding that good tools are important to the upkeep of a household and not a place you want to scrimp.

Over the course of my married life I have assessed the clutter bomb and tried to diffuse it before it swallowed our family whole. Often, just before Christmas, I have the boys collect any unused toys to give away before the onslaught of abundance presented to them with large red bows. We would do “back to school” shopping on an as-needed basis only (which, of course, was usually the most expensive things like shoes, shoes and shoes) and I just don’t purchase many clothes at all.

My weakness is furniture and kitchenware. If I am going to teach those boys anything, I better be willing to detach myself, which means that ramekin bowl set I bought for a steal at Goodwill probably needs to go since I haven’t touched them (other than to scoot them out of the way) for over a year, even if they make a terrific tinkling sound when I stack them and imagine the presentation of a gooey lava cake fresh from the oven. If I send them downstairs to collect a garbage bag of used but in good condition toys, I best take one in my room to do the same with clothes and crafting materials. I might not be a clotheshound, yet I don’t really think any one person needs the abundance of choices we feel like we deserve.

Our culture has gotten way out of hand with consumerism and waste. We purchase many things only to throw them away or collect dust. I feel like that is consuming more than our wallets because buying more than one needs suggests an attempt at filling gaps that can’t be assuaged by monetary gains, no matter how much one tries. It’s empty.

Clutter is an evil. It swallows a desire for narcissism and makes ‘things’ out of all creations, possessions rather than gifts. It stresses me out to see my house in disarray the same way I get stressed from consuming too much screen time: disoriented, unsatisfied, and most of all, anxious. Too much is too much.

I took two bags to my closet last week, dumping anything I hadn’t worn in a year or so (that I could recall) minus the classic little black dress and a few others. I also walked through my kitchen and was pretty brutal there as well; yet, my closets felt a little fresher and I didn’t have to jostle my bowls around to fit in the glasses. All in all, it was a great thing … well, that is until I went to find a particular pair of pants while packing for a vacation only to realize I probably gotten rid of them; but I lived.

If we want to teach our kids that stuff — material goods — aren’t what make character, virtues and a joy-filled life, then that begins at home. A home without three rooms of storage and a garage overflowing with clothes or household things. A home with a bedroom that is pleasing to the eye and settling to the soul. A house that is full of love and free of possessions.

Kristina Beers lives in the Remus area with her husband and five sons. She shares her thoughts on parenting teenagers and young adults on the first and third Saturdays of each month.

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