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A Spring Cleanse

Posted in: Blog by admin on April 30, 2011

The sun is finally out here in Chicago, and, after a long, grey winer, it actually feels like Spring is here.  I am eager to get outside and walk and think and be … but, for some reason, I feel compelled to clean and organize today.  I guess it’s that Spring Cleaning thing — that desire to clear out the stuff that we no longer use and make room for the new.  I already filled two bags of clothes to give away, and I feel so pacified just from that small task.  Why is that?  What is it about getting rid of stuff that makes us feel so good and free?

Part of the reason that it feels so gratifying to get rid of the unnecessary has to do with clarity in a literal sense.  When our closets are full and crowded, it is hard to see what we want and what we need.  Our clothing is more appealing when it’s lined up nicely rather than being crammed in among other undesired pieces.  Another reason it feels good to clean out our closets is because we are making room for the new, again in a literal sense.  Of course, symbolically and metaphorically, we are making room for the new, as well.  We are providing more clarity to our lives.  We are inviting more freedom into our days and into our homes.  Sure, on the superficial level, it feels great to have clear counters and neat closets and uncluttered desks.  But, when we get rid of items in our lives that we don’t need, it provides something that is much bigger and something that was unexpected:  Simplicity.  And, with simplicity, we often stumble upon joy.

There is a documentary out in theaters right now called “I Am.”  It was made by Tom Shadyac, a man who became a very successful and wealthy Hollywood film director yet, with his growing success, encountered feelings of void.  With new purpose in his life, he set out to enlighten people by sharing his newfound understanding that we are all connected and that there is so much more, so much that is intangible.  Through his film, he began sparking conversations about why we are all here, what we all care about and what is wrong with the world.  Tom explains that he was once standing in his 17,000-square foot home (one of three homes he owned at the time) when he realized that all of these luxuries made him no happier.  Now, in a mobile home and with a simplified, spiritual life, he is able to find his life’s meaning and purpose.  It was only when he cleared out all of the “stuff” that he was able to see and feel and abandon that extrinsic model of success that we are taught.  Because, of course, success is not about how much we make and how much we have.

So many of us get entangled in that model.  And, it is evident to me as I’m cleaning out my closets:  We have so many material objects, and we keep gathering more.  Yet it feels so liberating to simplify.  It feels so good to empty.  It feels so rewarding to open up our space for real things.  For love.  For community.  For connections.  There’s a reason why so many of us look forward to cleaning out our garages and our closets and our desks.  It’s because we know there is something bigger.  We know there is something deeper.  We know there is so much more.  It’s just lurking there in the distance.  And, maybe, if we clear away the superficial, we will allow the voids to be filled with the real connectors in life: things that inspire us, rather than things that look good on us.

The goal — to be free of the unnecessary objects and clothes and aspects of our lives that weigh us down — sounds like a lofty one.  And, it’s often challenging to know how and where to begin.  There are possessions we don’t need that steal away our time and energy.  There are people around us who don’t help us to evolve, improve or even simply smile.  There are routines in our day that are wasteful or unhealthy.  It’s time to let go.  It’s time to free yourself from all that weighs you down.  And, the best place to start is right there in your closet.

As you feel unbound just by the simple act of clearing out some simple possessions, imagine how liberated you will feel when you clear away the heftier baggage.  I’m not suggesting we all sell our homes and jewelry and cars and immediately do something as extreme as Tom’s drastic downsizing.  But, I am suggesting that we consider all that weighs us down.  Absorb the mass and the feeling and the emptiness, and then, slowly, let it go.

If we can extricate ourselves even slightly from the daily burden of all of the possessions we blindly and numbly acquire, I think that then we will enjoy the gratifying feeling of being.

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2 Responses to “A Spring Cleanse”

  1. Sue love says:

    So true. Love u!!

  2. Beautiful article. I have so much to clean up that if I did a portion of it I would be liberated according to your article.


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