As I worked on sorting things out yesterday–things I haven’t seen in years that were in boxes around my house–I got to thinking about how good it feels just to get rid of stuff. It wasn’t until I had a thought-provoking conversation with my best friend, John, this morning that I understood why.
When we throw out or otherwise get rid of things we don’t need in our lives, it not only creates physical space for us to live, but it relieves the untidiness it occupies in our minds. For instance, every time I think about getting rid of a game I have already played, I think to myself, “Maybe I’ll play it again one day,” and so it stays. I realize a game isn’t that big a deal – it doesn’t take up must physical space in my house. But if I think about getting rid of it ten times in the space of a month, it adds up to nothing less than stress. Now if I think about ALL the things I have in my house that I don’t need… it really adds up. If I just get rid of it I no longer have the choice, and so I can stop thinking about it.
It’s like procrastination. As long as there is something to do, my mind is cluttered with it. And the more I think about all the projects I have on the go, the more I realize that they are just things which are occupying space in my life. I need to purge them by getting them done already.
As Lao Tzu was wise to point out,
We mold clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes the vessel useful.
It’s not only the pot: it works equally for our homes and our minds.