A MIND FULL OF CLUTTER

By Saralee Perel

Last week, instead of heading home on the highway, my husband, Bob, and I took an extra 10 minutes and drove along the scenic route. We passed gorgeous cranberry bogs, yards filled with roses, and farm stands overflowing with corn. All through the drive, I cried. 

Sweet Bob wanted to hear my thoughts. “I’m worried about your doctor’s appointment,” I said through tears. “I’m so sorry I spoiled our drive.”

“But I want you to talk to me.”

“Bob, the only purpose my worried thoughts served was to lose every precious moment of a beautiful drive with you.”

At that instant, I learned that one word could change life for the better. The word? Clutter. In a single day I said to myself, “clutter,” each time I noticed a pointless negative thought. I stopped counting after about a hundred. 

Recently Bob called from his cell. “I’m at the store. I’ll be home in 20 minutes.”

I thought, “What if he has an accident?”

Clutter.

By identifying the useless thought, I could stop it. 

This de-cluttering business goes way beyond the “what if?” container. The life of my cat, Eddie, was wonderful. But the second I think of him, I visualize his ending.

Clutter.

So I asked Bob, “What do you think of when you think of Eddie?”

He laughed. “I think about Eddie-proofing the house, like keeping the toilet paper in a coffee tin.” Then he laughed harder and said, “I think about when he’d jump in my shower and every time I’d pull him out and then close the bathroom door behind him, he’d decide it was a challenge. He’d turn the door knob, race back to the shower and use his paw to quickly slide the shower door open and jump right back in!” 

Last week we went to the movies. We couldn’t bring our dog, Becky, in the car because of the heat. I said, “Bob, I can’t stop thinking about how unhappy Becky is right now.”

The truth is, I can stop thinking about … anything. We all can. Do you see any purpose in me taking time away from enjoying the movies by focusing on leaving my pooch at home?

Today, Bob and I stopped at a farm stand and bought corn. Now, I could have done what I did last time, which was to complain about the heat (clutter) and stay in the car while Bob bought the corn. Instead I spent a wondrous 5 minutes with my husband picking out corn and counting all the colors of the geraniums. 

That beat sitting in a car thinking about the 7 calls I had to return. It was a simple uncluttered moment in time, when all I had was the feel of the corn silk, the aroma of the sweet basil, and the sight of a hummingbird on a petunia.

And all that I had … was plenty.

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