Minimalism tells us that a cluttered environment is not a good environment. Clutter causes stress and stress, of course, is bad all the way around. For many of us, we hear the word clutter and we automatically think of the stack of mail on the table, the rows of unworn clothing in our closets, or the years of collected junk in our garage. But what about mental clutter? Is it not just as worthy of our decluttering efforts? In some ways, I think it is even more worthy than getting rid of our excess stuff.
Yesterday I sat down to read a book. My mind wandered off and pretty soon I was staring at the wall.
“What are you doing?” Angie asked.
“Reading,” I replied.
“Um, no,” I stuttered, as I struggled to sort all the things that were on my mind. “I guess I just don’t understand people.” This is my catch phrase when I am pondering something that doesn’t make sense to me. In this case, it was something that had happened at the grocery store.
Tena was my best friend throughout middle and high school. We parted ways when I went to college and she stayed at home, though through the years we reconnected several times. When I came out, she couldn’t process what I had told her, and our friendship dissolved amid a barrage of very negative comments (from her, not me). Last year, Tena passed away suddenly at the age of 40.
Yesterday, Angie and I ran into her husband at the grocery store. I told him how sorry I was to hear about Tena and asked how he was doing. He told me that he had already remarried. I know this kind of thing happens all the time but for some reason it hit me hard and I was beyond bumfuzzled.
While I was trying to read, I kept thinking about Tena’s husband – how he had gone online to a dating site, met someone, dated and married her, all within a year of Tena’s death. Was it grief? Was it so that he could have a mother for his son? What would Tena think if she knew?
I’m not a hopeless romantic by any means. I’ve been married and divorced. I’ve moved from one dating relationship to another in a matter of days before. I think what confused me most in this situation was that in all the mean things that Tena said back then, she held up her marriage to me as the shining example of what she thought love was supposed to be. I knew she would be hurt and it bothered me.
When the mind goes on a tangent, it can often wander off to all kinds of places. My thoughts of Tena brought back memories of my own life and it was in those memories that I stayed buried for hours. I was completely fuzzy by the time I want to bed.
This morning, as I sipped my coffee, a new thought occurred to me. I had given over a part of my evening to something that was beyond my control and really none of my concern in the first place. How often we as human beings do that! We obsess over the lives of others, often drawing ridiculous parallels between those lives and our own, and clogging our minds with clutter in the process.
I can’t say that I won’t find myself staring at the wall in bewilderment again anytime soon but I can say that I’ll try to be a better gatekeeper for the things that I allow my mind to ponder.