I’ve been reading the newspaper this afternoon—a rare indulgence. Newspapers are terribly messy and clutterful, and so I tend to get most of my news from the internet. With all the temptingly distracting hyperlinks, I suppose that the internet produces even more mental clutter, but at least it all stays contained in my head, rather than getting scattered about the house.
Of course, mental clutter is even more crazy-making than paper-clutter… until in finds its way out onto paper. It works just the same way as with the house—the more stuff you let in, the more of your life you have to spend organizing it all. There’s a richness in simplicity, and I’m trying to rid my life of extraneous junk. At the very least, I’m trying to count the cost for everything I bring into my life—not just the initial investment, but also the cumulative cost of constantly having to put it away, over and over again. It’s all too easy for the meaningless to crowd out the meaningful, for words to multiply, and dreams to crowd out their fulfillment.
Of the writing of books there is no end, but once they’ve been scattered all around the floor for the umpteenth time, they need to get put back into place so I can stop tripping on them. Yesterday, when I was trying to pick up the week’s accumulation of clutter, I found myself instead following my husband around while he cleaned, and chattering incessantly. I was explaining to him about why I really needed to write more, so that I wouldn’t drive him up the wall by talking his ear off quite so much. I stopped short as soon as I picked up on the irony, but he assured me that I wasn’t actually annoying him. He doesn’t mind when I talk about writing. It’s just when I talk about… certain things. He couldn’t remember what.
This afternoon, our beautiful, newly tidy room was strewn about with comics and economics and the weekly “Around the Area” column on local murderings and gristly accidents. I read aloud all the particularly infuriating snippets from editorial after editorial, and Andrew finally remembered what it is that always bugs him. Ah, yes. Politics. He can’t stand it when I talk about politics.
We’re pretty much on the same page, and though our views have evolved through the years, they’ve been changing in lockstep. But our attention spans are different, and Andrew is forever drawing me out of the endless round and round of the now, back to the slow, meticulous study of history that makes sense out of it all.
And of course, when I sat down to write, I had the intention of drawing some profound point out of all this.
It was terribly profound and wonderful, but it seems to be buried in a big pile with several pages of newspaper, some dirty dishes, and some unfolded laundry.