Pemberton: Decluttering your life

Joyce Pemberton Columnist

There is a universal law that says: The universe abhors a vacuum; when you create the space, the universe will fill it with what serves your highest good.

Loosely translated - if there’s an empty space in your life (or in your closet or garage), it’s likely you’ll find something to fill it.

Let’s put this law to the test.

Look around you. What do you see?

Do you see more empty space, or is your space filled with stuff?

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you have more stuff than empty space.

And I’m going to take another step on this shaky limb and assume that if I were to ask why you have so much stuff, you would look at me dumbfounded and say “I need it.”

And maybe you do. Who am I to judge?

We all have more stuff than we need. As the late comedian George Carlin said, “Your house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.”

I was thinking about this last week during our unusually warm weather. Our little downtown was busier than usual, and everywhere I looked people were out playing and puttering. This kind of weather always puts me in the mood to clean, so I decided to do a bit of decluttering.

As I was sitting on the floor of my closet justifying my 22 pairs of shoes, I had a revelation; Not all stuff is “clutter.” And not all clutter is “stuff.” We have lots of clutter in our lives that does not take up closet space.

Go ahead, tell me that social media isn’t cluttering up your time. Or that the cell phone attached to your hip isn’t cluttering up your mind with unnecessary emails, posts, tweets and texts that bring obligations and irritation.

The worst part about this kind of clutter is that it follows us everywhere we go. When is the last time you left the house without your cell phone?

Right. At least the clutter in your closet stays put when you leave the house.

There’s another kind of clutter that’s worse than the pile of old pots and pans in your cabinet or all the Tupperware with lids that don’t fit. And that’s the clutter of “people.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know people can’t be avoided, no matter how hard we try. We need people in our lives.

I’m a firm believer that God puts people in our path for a reason. Whether it’s the gal you see at the coffee counter for all of three minutes or that challenging relative you are stuck with for the rest of your natural life. There’s a purpose for every encounter and every relationship.

But just like that overwhelming pile of shoes in your closet, every once in a while you may have to take a good long look at the odd cast of characters people you’ve collected along the way and do a bit of sorting and sifting.

Knowing when and if to declutter, whether it’s shoes, technology or people, is the tricky part. Only you know what is in your own best interest. Only you can define what is “clutter” and what is just “stuff.”

The good news, if you do decide to clear some space in your life, according to the Universal Law we started with, the space left void will be filled with something that serves your highest good. Which translates to “better for you.”

Which, I think, translates into new stuff. Which further translates into a shopping trip. See?

And you thought this was just going to be about cleaning closets.