Monday, February 26, 2007

NO MORE CLUTTER

A book that is having a big effect on me right now is NO MORE CLUTTER: HOW TO CLEAR YOUR SPACE AND FREE YOUR LIFE by Sue Kay. Her book was listed by the bookshop at Friends' House as one of their books of 2006 and it chimes in with the Quaker ideal of simplicity. There is a good word, 'cumber' which it was used by the early Quakers and could be usefully revived. It is very expressive of the spiritual weight of having too many material things. And it is how I feel: encumbered. I just have too much stuff. It doesn't help that my husband is an academic as well, so we have a houseful of books and journals. Reading NO MORE CLUTTER has made me realise that I have been asking the wrong question when I have tried to clear the house. The wrong question is 'can I imagine circumstances - however remote - in which I might one day want this?' The right question is 'Do I really need or value this?' Am I ever going to need a run of the journal of ART HISTORY from the 1990s or thirty pairs of old tights? I think not. Actually William Morris said it all: 'Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.' It should be easy to get rid of the rest, but somehow it isn't. The value of Sue Kay's book is that it takes you through the process step by step. It's goodbye, clutter: hello, charity shop, dustbin and e-Bay.

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