Living Without Clutter: No Place to Hide

Today, I am delighted to share the wit and wisdom of Pesi Dinnerstein (a.k.a. Paulette Plonchak), who has written selections for the best-selling series, Small Miracles, by Yitta Halberstam and Judith Leventhal, and has contributed to several textbooks and an anthology of short stories. Pesi is a retired faculty member of the City University of New York, where she taught language skills for close to thirty years.

Pesi's new book, A Cluttered Life: Searching for God, Serenity and My Missing Keys has just been released. In it she shares that she is a "self-acknowledged clutterer" who "has spent the better part of her life trying to get organized and out from under. Despite heroic efforts, she has not yet succeeded; but she continues to push onward, and hopes that her journey will inspire others to keep trying as well."

Here are Pesi's thoughts on living without clutter ~~

I’ve always had a complicated and ambivalent relationship with my clutter, but it’s reached a new level these days. I’ve known for many years that I can’t live with all the excess baggage I carry around, but I’m now beginning to see that I can’t really live without it either.

The kind of clutter I’m talking about here is not the physical sort that creeps through my house and takes over every available surface. To that, I could say a joyful farewell with no hesitation—as I’ve done many times before.

It’s the loss of the more subtle forms of clutter that concerns me—the chronic busyness; the information overload; the mental spinning that even sleep can’t still. Without those instant fillers in my life, I’m afraid my world might actually become what I’ve always claimed I want it to be . . . truly empty.

Empty, of course, seems desirable in contrast to cluttered; but it doesn’t hold up very well against full. A full space conceals and protects; an empty one leaves no place to hide. And, quite honestly, I’m not ready to give up my favorite hiding places just yet.

Life is often a bit more than I can handle. All those bright lights and sharp edges overwhelm me; and I find myself in need of a little distraction from time to time to soften the intensity. However, life doesn’t always provide what we need when we need it. That’s why people carry emergency supplies with them.

My emergency kit is filled with clutter. Whenever I need a little distance from my feelings, I simply pull it out. Mental clutter and activity clutter are the perfect places in which to bury those uncomfortable feelings. Physical clutter is not as effective for me; but, in a pinch, anything will do.

I wish that feeling vulnerable or frightened or insecure or hurt didn’t always send me off in search of an issue or an experience in which to lose myself, but that’s pretty much the way it is right now. Some of my friends reach for a glass of wine or a plate of brownies or a Gothic romance to get them through the night—I head straight for my clutter. I guess we’ve all found what works best for us.

I hope my journey will someday take me to a place where I no longer need to hide so often. But, in the meantime, it looks like my clutter and I will be traveling this road together a little bit longer. 

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Annette said…
Pesi's book sounds fabulous. (And I LOVE the cover! Very nicely designed.) I can completely relate to the mental clutter she mentions. My physical environment is uber neat/clean/tidy and I think that helps balance me, because inside my head, it's crammed with so much "stuff" that if it were to open, an avalanche of ideas, information, dreams, intentions, and memories would bury me. Sometimes it feels like I can barely contain it all.

Best of luck with the book launch!
Greetings, Annette! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I agree, if someone opened by head they would be buried in all the stuff lingering there! As far as my physical space goes, it is neatly chaotic! I have a teeny, tiny home with lots of books, memorabilia, plants and love...
Margo Dill said…
I've been following this book around and hoping to win a copy. We are full of clutter currently because we haven't unpacked everything after moving into a rental, knowing we'll have to move again. I TRY to stay organized, but it's hard. I just close my eyes when I go into the garage. But I definitely work better when things are organized.
Pesi Dinnerstein said…
Hi Annette,
Thank you for your kind words; and I love the description of your mental avalanche. What a horrifying thought—but what a great image!

Hi Linda,
Neatly chaotic—that's what I aspire to. At the moment, it's chaotically chaotic, but I remain hopeful. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to be part of your blog.

Hi Margo,
If it's any comfort, I've never been fully unpacked in my life. The good thing about it is that there's always less to do for the next move!
junebug said…
Sounds like a good read. I've noticed as I decluttered my house with things I've substituted electronic clutter. It is really hard to give up the safety net of clutter around yourself.

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