Gif by : Lipeli

Decluttering, cleansing, finding myself again underneath all of the debris.

Ever since I first had one up until now, my desk has always been a mess. The result of a scatterbrained eagerness for any kind of learning, an ache to pick up new skills like a child wants to adopt every stray puppy they see.

Fountain pens for calligraphy,

charcoal for sketches,

Chinese ink,

origami material,

pages of Spanish vocabulary,

a mandarin handbook.

There was always a story to be found in the messes I made. Always something to read in between the layers of stuff strewn all over. We all leave traces behind. Like the wind carves unfathomable patterns into sand dunes, like the waves imprint the shore in abstruse motifs. Like paw prints left in the mud, marks left against a tree trunk. Oddly, I felt this was mine.

Something about it felt deeply personal. Like that mess pattern was one only I could create, one wrought from my whimsical thinking, my moods, my interests, my states of mind, my worlds. Something that was entirely different from what another person’s mess would be like if they had the same items at hand. It also gave me a lot of places to hide behind. Behind a book or wads of paper, lead staining my fingers to keep people away, making them believe in the idea of intense creation, of passion and creativity running wild, something that should not be interrupted, obstructed.

But I also kept a lot of junk.

Sentimental junk.

Ridiculous things I was too afraid to throw out. Because somehow, they became not souvenirs, but escape routes. As though holding onto them would take me back, away from not so pleasant realities. I hoarded these insignificant things, bits and bobs, almost compulsively. I dug my nails into these scraps from the past, into wood shavings left from once impressive moments. I kept so many things because sometimes the present is scary. And the future both marvelous and uncertain; foreign. But the past, the past is home.

It was then, I think, that nostalgia sank so deep into my skin. Filled my pores with the scent of old pages, of yellowed memories. Gave me this faraway look that I cannot shake from my eyes. Cloaked me in gentle sadness, in longing for a place and time that no longer exist outside of my brain and its peach-coloured memories.

I lived in the past. In worlds spun from idealised, romanticised memories. I swam in diluted truths also given new life by a bored imagination, a creativity itching to get started again.




I have began throwing them out, now.

Detaching myself from the havens they once promised.

It’s a sort of materialism, too. I realise. By wanting to keep a moment alive through an object, you end up glorifying it instead, sometimes forgetting why it even matters so muchβ€” you just know possessively, agressively that it does.

So yes, I am done with the button that fell off one of my clothes at some point in time. Done with random junk from my school days. And old receipts.

But I am still keeping my movie ticket stubs. Still wondering how I am going to reuse the unstitched sleeves from my ship-wheels and sailboats dress. Because, come on, that’s symbolic. I’m also cleaning out my phone. Deleting near-duplicates of the same shot. Keeping only what matters truly (and well a little bit more, too).

And I am not obsessing over keeping things either. I am not digging my nails into things, not wrenching my arms possessively around overflowing cardboard boxes. I am learning to let go. To enjoy now.Β 

Mentally too, it’s liberating. Like I’m shedding years of old relationships that no longer hurt now that I am freed of them. No longer am I fractured, either. I am not whole, but…pieced back together, even if sometimes it feels like I just stuck a band-aid on it and prayed the bits and pieces would hold themselves together.

Under the weight of clutter and memories, I feel like I shrank a bit all this time.

Even now, I am still messy.

But I clean up more often. I throw out old bills, pamphlets. I don’t let things clutter my space, my mind. After all, with all these useless things out of the way, I can finally set to work on creating a mess that is all me.

Listening to :

6 thoughts on “Decluttering”

  1. This hits close to home. I remember, every year during π˜‹π˜ͺ𝘸𝘒𝘭π˜ͺ when my home was to be repainted, I had to move stuffs collectively somewhere else. While re-arranging them one by one, I would find so many old items which we didn’t need any longer yet I would keep them.

    Some old, dusty, torn books which I wouldn’t be reading (I wasn’t a 4th grader anymore!) but I would dust it, stitch the torn pages and keep it back on the shelf. Every year, I would make new columns in the shelves – Moral education, GK books, Language textbooks – all of those even when I was preparing from my entrance exams.

    Then came the intermediates and I had moved outside my home, living alone in a room somewhere near to the city. There I kept each & every pen I had used, all irrelevant notes, some written pieces when I didn’t even know I would be blogging one day, old ATM receipts – I kept them all.

    For me they represented my struggle, my fight against adversities, my journey towards my dream. They had sentimental values for me but for others they weren’t more than a junk. Then came college (even longer period of attachment) and I had cartons filled with spare jumper wires, Arduino boards which didn’t work, swollen drone batteries, projects which were too bulky to carry back – those were boxes of ridiculousness but I cherished them like treasure.

    Last year, I was re-arranging the shelves one again. Those old books were still there. That broken lid, hazy ruler set, pencil stubs – they all were there too but this time I separated them up, packed and kept in storeroom. They would to be either sold to the scrap collector or pile up in the darkness.

    Why? Because now those shelves were full. New books had come up – mine, my brothers’ which side-cornered the old ones. Ever increasing stationary items needed their place now. Also I realized, after I had moved out, my brother has created his own mess and made that place his own playground. Things were more of his sentimental value.

    For similar reasons, I have no idea where my collection of pens are. My engineering kit – well some I have kept for “further experimentation” while others are part of e-waste which were not properly disposed.

    What happened then?

    I felt anchored. While this mess existed, it was getting increasingly difficult to create the mess further. It was getting chaotic, repressive. I was being held back to linger in the past while my present that were to become my immediate past didn’t seem glorious in comparison. Life has happened in every aspect except this souvenir part that was left unchanged.

    Now that I had tried to overcome this attachment to my distant past in whatever capacity I could, I gather up things to fill up the void I created. After this decluttering session, I can now go back to clutter it again with even more art, even more fun, even more struggle, even more life.

    Thanks a lot Ilah for this wonderful, wonderful post! You leave me speechless with your writing. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Though considering this comment, ‘speechless’ would be a pretty ironic word πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ahh, you had me hanging onto every word here! I’m glad to know I am not the only one who struggles with this. But yes, there is something about clutter that sortof screams that there is life in that place. And each stage of life, like you’ve so brilliantly expressed, brings its own clutter. Except maybe as we get older, we are mor conscious of it. Thank you for such an insightful, personal comment, Chandan. 10/10 would read again lol. And looking forward to reading your blog posts!!


  2. ridding old things can be so liberating! there’s always that weird moment where you realize that nostalgia’s the only thread holding you onto some old object…and when you get rid of it, you shed a little materialism, too.

    thanks for sharing, Ilah! ❀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right, and nostalgia can get a little addicting sometimes, so it’s best somewhere along the way to cut that thread. Thank you for reading, Lu ! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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