I think about time and energy a lot. Not as grandly as Albert Eistein but in terms of my own universe. Lately my focus has on another component of Einsteinian theory, mass. In the sense of physics mass is neither weight, bulk, nor the accumulation of things but in my universe it is and that is the problem. The weight of things. The mass and bulk of accumulated things. Things that have to be cleaned, laundered, washed, put away, repaired, and replaced. Things that need to be sorted, filed, copied and mailed. Those I believe are the worst. As an accountant I certainly learned how to peform all those actions on paper to a high degree of efficiency. At home however, at the end of a busy month the hall table can wind up looking like this.
I don’t want my house to look the way I imagine the basement of the Pentagon must have looked a few decades ago. As much as possible I conduct my business on line. Still, since in the past I have signed petitions for or sent modest donations to what I believe are good causes, I’ve obviously been shopped around on lists. Sometimes it seems I’ve received so much mail I’m afraid that half of Oregon might have been clear cut to to provide the paper. I have to go through it all because it all gets folded together to fit in the box and the one necessary piece is always inside the grocery flyer or a car dealership “sale” brochure. On top of the mail are the records one is required to keep for taxes, for one’s vehicle, for business and for identity. Very little can be done about the increasing legal requirements for record keeping. There are laws against spam and tools to fight it with but I have no such protection against the onslaught of paper that assails me each day.
I love to read, but I have stopped buying books. I have no more magazine subscriptions. I work from home so a large part of my wardrobe has already been donated to charity thrifts. Still, as in a black hole, things seem to be drawn in and accumulate. Unlike with a black hole they do not seem to cross the event horizon and disappear. It requires personal energy to deal with mass in the gravity well of my house. I have read many of those lists that give you tips for clearing clutter and getting organized and duly followed the suggestions but now I seem to have reached an event horizon of diminishing returns. My closets resemble the one above only in one respect, size. They are small and there are few of them. Also, they are not suited to what I need to store. The same can be said of my kitchen cabinets and counter space, which more resemble this.
So I how do I simplify in the face of these irritatations? There are worse problems to have by far. But every minute I spend diiging through a plastic bin or fetching and climbing a stepstool is a minute I’m not writing or gardening or playing with the cats. Every time I stand with clean linen in my arms and can’t fit another facecloth onto the shelf or can’t find a space on the counter to cut some veggies I ask myself how to deal with this. There are many possible fixes, some temporary, some more drastically permanent. I suspect it is really a process that will be ongoing rather than a fixed target to reach. Still, it is a road I need to travel down, however elusive the destination, because I believe achieving simplicity is complicated but not impossible.