Lent has begun. I’m not giving something up this year. Firstly because I ended up giving up nearly everything I could eat, drink or do because I had to stop all the substitutes for the thing I actually wanted to give up. And, more importantly, because giving up stuff has never brought me closer to God or done anything to help my spiritual state.
Instead, I’m going to spend the weeks of Lent decluttering (or “deck uttering” as the auto/correct kindly suggested, thanks for that). I’ve started well by throwing out over thirteen pairs of shoes and a whole load of other clothing and belongings. Actually I was horrified to discover I had that number of shoes. And apparently I’m not short of shoes even now. Perhaps I have a shoe fetish after all?
I do not want to become a slave to my possessions or obsessed about having the right stuff around the house. I’m always in awe of those people who give away everything to live with only 100 possessions. Think about that for a second? Could you? Really? You’d have to include things in there like the kettle, the mug and the tea caddy, not to mention the washing machine or the sofa or the bed. Tally them up and that’s quite a scary idea for us folk living in the chaos of consumerist Britain.
Here’s some inspiration to reflect on if you want to start getting in control of your physical “stuff”:
“Don’t let your possessions overwhelm or control you. After all, you’re really their custodian, not their owner. Look at them differently. You can’t take any of them with you. So only keep things that are useful or beautiful. Live simply.”
– Patrick Lindsay, in Now Is The Time
Then I’m going to attempt to declutter my mind by focussing less on worries about the future and being present now, right now, in this moment. And this one. And this one too. You get the idea.
This is worryingly hard for me. I spend whole days thinking (ok, you got me, its more often worrying, over-analysing, fretting or becoming excessively anxious) of the next thing I have to do (or should do…or could choose to do…more on that another time) and hardly noticing what I’ve actually been doing. You know, that drive home from work when you suddenly realise you are half-way home and yet have no recollection of making the journey? Yep, that. Lent is as good a time as any to focus on being present in the moment and who knows who or what I might notice because I’ve taken mental time out from my own worries and concerns.
Why don’t you join me with some decluttering of your own? It doesn’t have to be stuff or even mental clutter. Perhaps you need to clear some diary space for new, exciting things or just for time with good friends? Or your own perceptions about yourself?