Sunday, May 20, 2012

Packing Up

Five years of living in Japan with no storage means that I have plenty of clutter about me. This clutter being part hoarded goods I want to take with me to my real life, that real life I haven't ever had of living in one place. Clutter is partly living with children who are pack rats, at least one of them.

Clutter is also due to my weakness. I can't say, "Enough, no more!" even to myself as often as needed. It's why I have six pair of winter boots. Yes, I have cold feet, but what gets me into trouble is thinking that there is something better in those other boots, maybe they are easier to take off and on (important in Japan), maybe some boots are better in wet conditions, maybe some are better in spring when it warms up, etc. I can cover the gamete of weather with my boots but they are everywhere. Simpler would be less expensive, take up less space, and, frankly, would have a stronger fashion impact if I limited myself to two pair. Creativity likes boundaries.

I might be starring at boots in the closet, but at every turn there is something that is too much with us. I have a file cabinet worth of art and school work from my children. They are eight and seven. There are many years ahead for saving. In the meantime these papers are stacked on the futon in two piles, his and hers. Free surfaces? Not a chance.

It is amongst this clutter that the desire for space has begun, breathing room. I desire a space that has room for people, events, that it is not entirely complete without us, without the happenings.

Stuffed houses with perfect interiors assault my senses. There is no room for living in those perfect rooms with all of those pillows, throws, and picture frames everywhere. I don't want rooms devoid of personality, just rooms that have space for people to inhabit them.

As I poke through the closets, nooks, and bins of our lives, I think, "Where will this go?" Ample storage does not mean we should fill it. I suspect there will still be things to shed when return, despite the present work to reduce and get rid of excess.

In Japan my spacial aesthetic has changed. Once I was impressed by big space, then open space, and now, now, it is culled spaces-- spaces that have nothing left to remove. It is easy to have too much in a room, in a space. The real work is in paring it down, in revealing not a styled room, but texture, form, and a place for life.

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. 
Antoine de Saint Exupery