Question - does getting rid of stuff really create the vaccuum that allows new things into your life?
This is a fundamental element I hear from proponents of "The Secret". Don't hoard your old junk, get rid of it and you'll open your life to new things.
I have an actor friend who had been un-hired for quite some time, then started clearing out some junk and got a job immediately. He's pretty convinced the principle holds.
I have been wondering if this principle is at play in the world of creativity and art making as well. I have piles of papers and boxes of notes for songs I might "one day" write, but those notes have been there 15+ years. I have folders of song drafts that sit, waiting to be finished, but years later, I've never gone back to them. And I have folders of finished songs I don't like, or want to play anymore - perhaps they need a re-write, or just to be laid to rest.
So I wonder if my lack of writing or interest in writing, over the past year or so, might be shaken a bit if I purge myself of all this old crap. A songwriter friend of mine once said "of course you're not getting any new inspiration - the universe knows you don't follow through and finish the songs it has inspired you to write".
Lately I've been feeling like just getting all the old songs, in one big load, and burning them. Just freeing myself from all of it. All the emotional baggage caught up in a million "you left me" songs, a hand full of "you are wonderful" songs and whole load of songs that could go in any direction as they're not really written enough to know yet. Perhaps that's what I need.
I'm interested to hear from other artists if they've experienced the same feeling and have done the big clear out. What has been the effect of your productivity and creativity?
I had an interesting experience just a little while ago. I had a spider by my bed, late one night. It was a huntsman spider, large but not as large as those suckers can get. This was probably a teenager. It was large enough, thanks all the same. The problem with teenagers is that they run very, very fast.
So I did what any woman, scared of spiders does, when she encounters one that is way bigger than her "I can deal with this on my own" limit. She calls her Dad. Bless his cotton socks, he came over, 11.45pm, to help me.
In the process of trying to catch this thing, it ended up running under my bed.
This was not a good turn of events for it or for us. It pretty much meant that death was the only option. There was no way on earth I was going to sleep with that thing alive under my bed. And yet, there was so much stuff under my bed, stuff I had not looked at in years, that finding the spider and trying to push it out from under there to capture it, to take it outside, was impossible. My Dad opted for the spray, in large amounts, under the bed. Then slowly, item by item, we took out everything till we found the spider and quickly put it out of its misery.
This was not how I wanted this scene to end. Much as I dislike huntsman, and I have a strict "no tolerance" policy on anything in my living spaces with more (or less) legs than me, putting it outside is humane and preferable. As long as someone else does it.
However, I have read somewhere that spiders are blessings and we should be thankful when one comes to visit. i don't know about that, but this story has an interesting twist that make me wonder about this spider's visit.
I was quite embarrassed about the amount of junk under my bed - stuff even I had forgotten about. I, therefore, set about sorting it out and chucking stuff. My good friend AW came over and we went through it together, looking at old paintings and drawing, she listened patiently to my stories and explanations of my work. Many emotional phases of my life in art of one form or another. So much emotion.
Here are a few of my artworks.
Eventually, I cleared it all. I kept only the most important works, chucked a whole lots of stuff out and now have a wonderfully clear space under my bed.
As we sat on the floor and I told her about the spider going under there, something really profound occurred to me. All this emotional baggage lay in art, under my bed. So much pain and loss and grief and loneliness. Stuff from my past that I didn't really want to look at or think about again.
Spiders represent one thing I fear most, as I live alone and don't deal with those big ones on my own at all.
So, the thing fear most in my personal life was hiding amongst the things I didn't want to look at and go through - the baggage I have hidden away. Go through the emotions, sort out the experiences, and the thing I fear cannot hide there, scaring me any more, preventing my rest and leaving me needy.
This is the kind of metaphor I respond well to. This is the kind of blessing I needed. Perhaps that spider was sent, to give his life, to clear my baggage.
I have no miraculous end to this story. I haven't suddenly written a new album or had a massive surge of creativity. But I felt light and clearer immediately. I am enthused to keep clearing clutter. I am more aware of how much clutter I have and how quickly it builds up when I clear space out.
Share your tips for clutter control in the comments below. Or your experience of metaphorical meaning derived from encounters with huntsman.
Happy clearing and creating.