I used to think that all the clutter in my life was on the top of my desk. Then I came to the disquieting and most disturbing realization that it’s nowhere nearly as simple as that. Clutter, I now recognize, can and often does permeate every facet of my life and it takes constant vigilance and super human effort just to keep it at bay.

Sometimes–most of the time–I feel that I spend all of my time just clearing enough of the ever-accumulating clutter from my life just so that I can see my way clear to sitting down, staying put, and writing. That is my everyday goal. If I get as far as sitting down, it’s often the staying put that doesn’t happen–and of course, if I don’t stay put, I don’t write. The reasons for not staying put usually have to do with more encroaching clutter.

The clutter just keeps coming–relentlessly–multiplying by the sheer force of its existence.

Last week I had what looked like, according to my calendar, a “free day”–a day free from appointments or commitments of any kind. A day to write, or so I thought. I made my first mistake by getting a later start than usual at pulling my physical self together–meaning taking a shower and getting dressed. I had already been busy at cleaning up e-mail and other related computer clutter before heading off to clean up myself.

Just as I stepped out of the shower, wrapped in head and body towels I heard a frantic banging at my door–I mean, this person desperately wanted to get in. Against my better judgement, I peeked around the corner of the hallway to see if I could see who exactly was creating the racket. It was a former client-turned-friend who had apparently stopped by after depositing her kids at the school around the corner. As I saw her, she also saw me and of course I had then to grant her entry–although in my towel swathed state, I was not exactly dressed for a lengthy conversation. Despite my appearances, she stayed for a bit before taking her leave, and to be truthful her mission in stopping by was to do some unbidden (and free) promotional work for me, so I could hardly begrudge her my time.

That was just the beginning of a day fraught with unforeseen happenings. From all kinds of oddball phone calls to oddball letter writing (prompted by the phone calls of the same description) to unplanned trips to the post office–to mail the oddball letters–and then the usual errands which became unusual just by deviant circumstantial situations, I was on the run–non-stop. I blame it on the day, the law of perversity, or perhaps on the capricious whims of celestial configurations that must have been having a field day at my expense. (Certainly much more than Mercury had to have been retrograde.)

Analogous to the frustrations of that day is the seemingly simple daily task of picking up the mail and then having to do something with all that arrives. Nothing of a personal sort comes by mail anymore–all of that is on e-mail. Instead, there are the usual bills, but also all kinds of notifications from “official entities” about things that at least seem important enough not to be forgotten–even if they don’t require immediate action.

Where do I put these things so that the forgetting of them doesn’t take place? I still don’t know the answer to that and so, many of them eventually get shuffled from my desk top to various stacks on the surrounding shelves–as well as on the floor–where they sit and age until they no longer seem as important as they once were. They become part of the landscape of physical clutter.

The multiplying and self-perpetuating clutter of that particular day last week wasn’t so much of the physical variety, but of the more troublesome and insidious sort–the intangible clutter that requires doing-something-about, and sooner rather than later. That’s what really drives me crazy because until I’ve done the doing, I can’t even think about sitting down, staying put, or least of all, writing.

Most people need a house cleaner. I need a clutter cleaner. I’d better stop writing this and go do something about that.

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