Carrying the Raft/”Carrying” the Clutter
How much of your stuff is something that was once helpful for you and now you keep it “just in case” you need it again? “Just in case” thinking is a rationalization for holding-on to clutter.
Zen monk and author Thich Nhat Hanh relates a parable by the Buddha that relates “just in case”stuff that weighs us down in life and “just in case” thinking that slows us down in our life journey.
The parable is about someone who wants to cross a flood-swollen river. They build a raft and cross safely. But once on the other side they think “I spent a lot of time and energy making this raft. It is a prized possession. I will carry it with me as I continue my journey.” Is it smart to carry a raft over dry land “just in case” you may need it in the future? Carrying a raft will surely slow you down on your journey.
The Buddha suggests a wiser way of thinking. “This raft helped me safely across the river. Now I will leave it at the water’s edge for someone else to use in the same way.” Not only are you helping others, but your own journey over dry land will be lighter and easier.
The Buddha meant this parable to be about letting go of un-helpful beliefs, but it can also be a metaphor for clutter.
Often our clutter consists of things that were helpful to us in the past, but are unused now. Do you hold on to something “just in case” you may need it in the future? Holding onto stuff, holding onto the past prevents us from living fully in the future. I have seen clients sacrifice valuable space they need for living, just to store their stuff. Clutter can prevent fresh Chi energy for the present and future from coming into your space. Do you want to live in the past?
“Just In Case” Clutter Dilemmas and Solutions
- Karen Kingston, author of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, says that this kind of holding-on sends a message to the universe: you don’t believe that you will be able to provide for yourself in the future or that the Universe will aid you.
- Some people hold onto stuff until they find just the right person to give it to. That can take a very looooong time. Meanwhile you are stuck with stuff you don’t want. Donate it to a charity or organization and trust that God/the Universe will get it to the people who need it. What is your albatross can be someone else’s treasure.
- For things that have a sentimental value make a Memory Book. Take a photograph of the item, trusting that the photo will trigger those wonderful memories. Make a scrap book of the memory photos or save them on your computer. Then let go of the object.
- If you are holding onto a useless or unattractive gift out of a sense of obligation or guilt – let it go. The gift is simply a vehicle for the giver’s love and good intentions. Donate the gift to a charity and consciously hold onto the positive energy that came to you with the gift.