• Lucia Joyce

The Quiet Excellence Of A Slow Declutter


Mom sent me this, as I was cleaning, ironically

Stuffed in the back of desk drawers, kicked to the bottom of closets, and scrawled across worn notebooks, are the little preserved memories and unmade decisions of my past. The daily grinds and schedules of the past few years have been full of travel, creative starts, and the slow accumulation of apartment decor. "Organization" has been on my to-do list for weeks--and so many pockets of the house could use a touch, but today I focused on my computer desk drawer. It was the perfect little starter project for what I'm sure will be a week long deep tidy of our space. Not too intimidating, able to be finished with my morning coffee, but still significant enough to leave me feeling accomplished.


Cleaning/organizing is this beautiful merging of your past and future. You sift through accumulated memories, (ideally) learn to let go of the things you no longer need, and find creative nooks for the things you want to keep, remember, and readily access down the road.


If it sounds trivial or nerdy to you, fair. I thought people who liked to clean were psychopaths until junior high, when a friend asked me if she could clean my locker for me. I thought it was a prank. But she assured me she just liked cleaning. I offered to buy her lunch. She refused. She then spent a spare hour completely revising my locker-opening experience, top to bottom. It was like an interior design transformation--for my locker. My friend glowed with a kind of zen pride. I was stunned. I had been trained to think of cleaning as a chore, meant to be left to the last possible moment. A necessary evil. That friend helped me find my own quiet zen with my own decluttering ritual--something I carry proudly.


There is just something so excellent about assessing the dirt and disorganization (of your home, your car, your desk, even your body and hair), and giving it a good, meticulous overhaul. It's a method of self care. It's a gentle coming-to-terms with what is so you can move forward, improved.


I recycled a ton of old papers, made a little file system for still-relevant receipts and letters, recovered forgotten art supplies, audition journals, and (to my surprise and delight) pages and pages of poetry from a 2018 show tour. Poems I had completely forgotten. Poems so zoned in to a single moment in time that they repainted my memories in utter detail. Even though I occasionally write free verse musings on my blog and in random journal pages when inspiration strikes, I had forgotten why I loved writing them. Were they timeless pieces of commercial art? Likely not. But they were a timeless spotlight on my own growth, two years later. If you ever feel the urge to write, do it. Don't judge it; don't worry about who will see it or whether it's a true work of genius. If you feel inspired, write. It's a delicious step on the journey of self realization, both in the original act and the things gleaned from reading it again down the line.


If you hate cleaning, start small, and take your time. Do it with your favorite snack or hot beverage and a juicy soundtrack that will get you on your flow. Acknowledge everything, whether you need it or not. You might find a hobby that still excites you. You might be inspired to sell something or purchase some small accent you've always wanted. You might find a poem or a letter from someone. A receipt that jogs a positive memory. Give in to the quiet, zen excellence of a slow declutter, then bask in the fresh space you've created.


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