Cluttered mind journals in cluttered room

(Stares at the blank page, then at the bitter cold view out the window — sunny, but treacherous — then up at the clock and at the Julia Cameron book left next to the other armchair instead of back up on the shelf where it belongs.)

What is the problem with having “a place for everything and everything in its place”? Why do I just leave everything where I left it, lost and disheveled in a place not its own? How will I ever find it there? Rolling my eyes at myself asking, “Now where did I put that?” or stumbling over it in the dark or forgetting it even exists until one day, sorting through a pile, I see it and think, “OMG, I was supposed to do something with this,” or “OMG, now I remember what I meant to do before Christmas,” or “THAT was it.”

(Sees the fedora lying on top of a pile of 1990s-era Writer’s Digest magazines, and the cardboard lid for a cardboard box long ago recycled, and the HDMI cables from the TV units disconnected two weeks ago.)

They say, “Let sleeping dogs lie,” but I have so much debris on the floor in places where a dog might want to lay down and have a nap, so they can’t. Am I genetically predisposed to live in a pig sty, or is that just something frustrated mothers say?

I have a vision for this room, and I never get around to finishing it. There’s the microphone and the mixing board and the guitars on the wall and the turntable next to everything, and the computers ready to convert the sounds into something to share — or ready to accept the words that will become books one day.

(Gets up to let a dog in and picks up the Julia Cameron book before sitting down, then sets the book next to the chair and picks the journal back up.)

If I start reading, am I avoiding my writing? Am I reading and writing when I ought to be logging into the day job? Or will the reading and the writing make me better at all of this — or at least end up decluttering one of the cluttered areas in this room? How does a 10-by-10 room get so cluttered in the first place? And if everything were to be in its place, would I remember where all those places are?

(Gets up to retrieve a figurine the cat just knocked down the stairs. It’s a childlike figure of Joseph, separated from Mary and Jesus by a playful feline. Good thing the stairs are carpeted.)

Yes, we still have our little artificial Christmas tree up on its shelf and the seasonal decorations around it. Do you know how comforting it is, with the outside temperature hovering around zero Fahrenheit and the metaphorical chill settled around the land, to be reminded of a time when we celebrated the birth of a man of peace, who tried to revolutionize the way we treat one another? When all is said and done about him, the things I remember most are that he said to love our neighbors — and everyone is our neighbor — and not to worry. Who of us by worrying can add a day to our lifetimes? OK, maybe worrying can spur action that saves a day, but he just meant there are better ways to spend a day than worrying to death — and the “Love one another” part was the more important thing anyway.

(Uncrosses a leg and crosses the other one. Changes the ink refill on his favorite pen. Pets the dog that just stuck her nose on the chair’s arm.) (It’s the other dog — is it her turn to go out, or does she just want to keep me company?)

We never know exactly what the right thing to do is — and so we keep doing what we were doing until a better idea or more urgent need presents itself. One important thing is to act on the better idea before it devolves into a more urgent need.

Published by WarrenBluhm

Wordsmith and podcaster, Warren is a reporter, editor and storyteller who lives near the shores of Green Bay with his wife, two golden retrievers, and an insistent cat. Author of Gladness is Infectious, 24 flashes, How to Play a Blue Guitar, A Bridge at Crossroads, Refuse to be Afraid, and A Scream of Consciousness.

2 thoughts on “Cluttered mind journals in cluttered room

    1. Oh, how I feel your pain, Stuart. The to-do list is a handy tool, but it’s what John Lennon (or whoever said it first) was talking about when he said, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

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