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More from Peter Walsh on clutter, quality of life

Oprah's Clutter Man: "It's Never About the Stuff"

Clean Sweep's Peter Walsh (previously) has a new book out, and Mediabistro had the chance to chat with him while he was out promoting it.

While I wish Peter had held out for a more cromulent title ("Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?" Ouch.), I so admire this guy's grip on what clutter does to your mind. Or at least what it does to mine.

Typically swell quote:

Our show was never about the stuff. I told the producers early on that you can only organize so many closets and garages before people lose their minds... We all have stuff. What we had to do was tell people's stories through their stuff, and see them realizing what their relationship to the stuff had become.

and, later:

What is your vision for the life you want to live, and do your life choices reflect that vision? Specifically: Is your home a space for the life you want?

Ours is a culture based on the idea that whenever you run out of space, you should just pull up stakes and move five miles west. Then you can be happy. Is it any wonder that we seek organization rather than deletion as the solution to an overwhelming problem? Yeah, I think this goes well beyond not being able to find a business card in your junk drawer.

Capacity is only worth building when it'll be used in the service of stuff you really want. Whether that's calendar events, your Fabergé eggs, or those crusty Lean Cuisine plates from last summer, the quality of matter that you allow to stay anywhere in your life eventually starts rubbing off on everything it touches.

jeffwhitfield's picture

More stuff

Funny thing is that George Carlin has already talked about this very thing (George Carlin Talks About Stuff). Wonder if he got influenced by George? Anyways...

I've had first hand experience with someone who was one of the worst pack rats I've ever seen in my life. My wife's mother was moving from Ohio and into a small two-bedroom apartment in Texas where we live. So my wife and I offered to help her move. Big mistake! What she failed to tell us was just how much she wanted to move. I kid you not...she literally had two large studio vans filled to the brim with boxes and stuff! After all the boxes were moved in there was no place for anything! Virtually every room was stacked three to four boxes high. Both bedrooms were full of boxes. The dining room was full of boxes. There was barely any place to do anything in the kitchen. About the only areas you could walk in and out of was the kitchen, living room, hall, and bathroom. That was it. It was pathetic.

There's an obvious emotional element to people who leave a lot of useless stuff lying around. My wife's mother is the absolute worst-case scenario. The level of emotional attachment to so much useless stuff was mind boggling!

It did teach me one thing though; that eventually, like it or not, you will have to make a decision on what to do with some of your stuff. You will eventually will have to decide whether to throw out that 10 year old Sound Blaster 16-bit sound card you've been holding on to. Or the box full of old cassette tapes you know damn well you'll never play again, many of which you already have on CD.

Even the most organized people in the world have clutter in their life. There is always the equivalent of a proverbial crap drawer somewhere. Could be a cluttered desktop on your computer. Could be the clutter in your mind. Or it could just be that you really do have a crap drawer and don't like throwing anything away.

At any rate, how you choose to act upon your emotions and get rid of the clutter in your life is entirely up to you. If you don't, truth be told, sooner or later someone else will help you make that decision. And that's a pattern that's just filled with a world of hurt.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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