Tuesday, July 21, 2015
BECAUSE I'M ALL ABOUT THEM BOOKS
"A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy...Books are more than doctors, of course. Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you've got those autumn blues. And some...well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void. Like a short, torrid love affair." ~ Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop
Remember that whole-house purge I got involved in after reading Marie Kendo's Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Well, as predicted, I kind of got bogged down when I hit the "paper" stage. I did manage to get my half-dozen recipe notebooks pared down to just one, and my file cabinet is so empty now, the folders flop over instead of standing up straight! Unfortunately, I still have cabinets, drawers and shelves filled with stationary, gift wrap, tissue paper, saved packing paper and bubble wrap, and all sorts of artsy collage fodder such as floral napkins, used security envelopes and tea bags, and books full of craft papers. Just when I was about ready to throw in the towel, my best friend started texting me about a book she was reading -- Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project.
I'd been seeing it amongst the best-sellers for ages now, but never picked it up since I'd already read numerous books on the subject (Simple Abundance, Simplify Your Life, Eat Pray Love, etc.) and have been writing about the topic here on my blog for years now. My friend, however, can be fairly relentless when she has a bee in her bonnet. I thought I might just borrow it from the library. She said I'd never be happy if I couldn't hi-lite all my favorite bits. She was right. I bought the darn book! Thankfully. For it never hurts to see that which you think you already know from a different perspective, through fresh eyes.
In her book Rubin decides to tackle a different subject, all related to achieving a consistently higher level of happiness, each month. First on the agenda was boosting one's energy. For physical energy she needed to work on getting more sleep and regular exercise -- especially walking. Got it covered! But then she started talking about "mental energy" -- about how outer order can bring inner peace, and about how crossing things off one's to-do list helps clear away "metaphorical clutter." Turns out household disorder can seriously sap one's energy. "In a sign that people are finding their possessions truly unmanageable, the number of storage units nationwide practically doubled in one decade." That's just crazy, is it not? I don't think such things even existed when I was growing up, and now half the country pays monthly rent on extra buildings to hold all that "stuff" they never use? Insane! Rubin also mentions one study which suggested that eliminating clutter would cut housework by 40%.
So here's the thing. Even when my house is spic and span, with everything in its proper place, it still makes me jittery. Why? Because of "visual clutter". Everywhere you look -- on the walls, on the shelves, in the drawers, closets and cabinets -- so. much. STUFF! On top of that is the "psychic clutter" resulting from all the neglected maintenance chores we keep putting off, such as asphalt repair, a clogged pipe leading to our rainwater tank, and the gutter guards that the squirrels have managed to peel off, so they can make themselves at home in there. The kind of stuff that weighs one down with guilt and weariness. You might say Rubin's book gave me that "clip around the ear" I so desperately needed, for it made me realize I would never have the order and serenity I crave until I got a handle on these things, and it got me re-energized just when I needed it most.
So thank you Dear Paula, for being so dang persistent!