Spring Cleaning Your Home and Brain

by DavalosMcCormack on February 5, 2009

It was a lovely fresh, crisp sunny Saturday this weekend. It felt like the beginning of spring. The trees were starting to bud and the daffodils were coming out. So Shirley and I decided to throw caution to the wind and… do some spring cleaning. Well, it was either that or work on our taxes and it’s way too early to think about that.

Anyway, we were scrubbing and scouring and polishing and dusting and mopping and vacuuming and every so often one of us would pick up an object that had been lying around for a while and ask ‘why did we keep this?”

As the number of objects we were asking that about grew it occurred to me that there are two kinds of objects; movable ones and usable ones. Usable ones are things that you actually use, such as frying pans or a toaster. Movable ones are things you thought you would use but don’t – such as a waffle iron because you never actually make waffles, or a cute flower pot that came with a flower that died three years ago but that you kept because you thought you’d use it again but somehow never did.

We all have lots of movable objects, things we keep moving around to different locations in the house but never actually use. In some cases they eventually get thrown out. In other cases they get moved to a storage area where they are never seen again.

I was thinking that it’s not just physical objects that we treat that way, we also treat our ideas of who we are the same way. Some of us have ideas about ourselves that are real, the equivalent of usable objects, things we use – we like chocolate we don’t like broccoli. But there are other ideas about ourselves that are closer to movable objects – they don’t serve any purpose other than to clutter up our minds and our lives.

Those ideas could be something as simple as thinking you can’t sing, or that you are no good at sports, ideas that took root when you were growing up. Someone told you that and because you liked the person you believed them. Years later you still haven’t let go of that feeling, in fact you are holding on to it so tightly that it’s now embedded in you, even though there really may be no basis for it in reality.

Every so often we need to go through our minds and figure out what stuff we want to keep and what stuff we don’t need anymore. As you get older you may find you have outgrown some things, such as your collection of Troll dolls. At the same time you may find you have grown into an appreciation for other things, such as the novels of John Updike or fine wines.

The key is to not just assume that because you felt that way once you will always feel that way. Keep the usable stuff, get rid of the movable stuff. They’re just cluttering up your mind.

Who knows, by dumping some old preconceived ideas of who you are or what you are you may find a whole new you underneath. You may even discover that you can sing after all, or that even if you are not brilliant at sports you can still enjoy them. And in the end, isn’t that all that matters.

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