I am late in discovering Peter Walsh but I am making up for lost time. He is rapidly changing my life and causing me to lose a lot of sleep.
Peter Walsh is an organizing expert and frequent guest on Oprah. I heard his name bandied about at the last girlie swap I attended. Many of the participants were extremely disciplined about not taking home more than they were unloading. I was too frenzied to care about this guru who was casting such a strange spell on my swapping friends. Instead I was frantically shoving everyone’s castoffs into my bags, wild in my desperation to amass more stuff that I don’t need.
A couple of months ago while enjoying delicious vegetarian poutine at Utopia on College Street I became fascinated by a woman sitting next to me devouring a book and scribbling madly in her journal. I glimpsed the book’s cover - It’s All too Much, by Peter Walsh. We began chatting about her clutter and how the book was helping her tackle it. I was too busy being judgmental and snide for her advice to strike a chord, thinking that if she really wanted to tackle her clutter problem, shouldn’t she stop buying more books? I could see The Sweetie in my peripheral vision nodding emphatically but ignored him too. The clutter has been a source of irritation for The Long Suffering Sweetie for ages. He is all about simplicity and clean lines and minimalism. If he had it his way he would put a giant dumpster on the driveway and dump most of the contents of our place into it.
I suppose I just wasn’t ready. Years ago I wasn’t ready to quit smoking despite countless photos of black lungs and my mother’s pleas. The timing had to be right and something needed to click for me to quit. Likewise, until now I wasn’t fully ready to admit that I am buried in crap. I have exploding drawers and a booby-trapped closet crammed with objects poised to tumble on my head. Perhaps I do have a clutter problem after all.
When the student is ready the teacher will come. I finally bought It’s All Too Much and am now the full-on grasshopper to Peter Walsh’s minimalist teachings. He quotes William Morris who said you should not have anything in your house unless it is either beautiful or functional. If I were to follow that criteria more than half of my possessions would be gone. I have declutter fever. I can’t sleep at night because I am thinking of what I should purge. I can’t hear The Sweetie when he is speaking because I am busy looking over his shoulder at what I should throw out.
I will be the minimalist of all minimalists. The rooms will echo from their emptiness. My few remaining clothes will sway in my barren closet, lonely for clothing playmates. I will be almost creepy in my quest for stark hollow emptiness. I am beyond thrilled and more than a little obsessed. It has become a sickness but what a sweet sweet liberating affliction it is.