Tidy minds

This week, whilst totally failing in my quest to reduce the book content of my home, I picked up a little gem in a local charity shop- A Treasury of English Aphorisms. Published in 1928, it was packed with pithy one-liners such as “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Once these sayings would’ve been embroidered, framed and hung above the fireplace, but these days they are more likely to be superimposed on random images and posted on Facebook. Since my old book didn’t propose any clutter-appropriate aphorisms, I took a look online for something a little more current.

The internet was overflowing with quotes about tidiness, though it all became a bit repetitious…


Strangely though, this advice wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Victorian parlour. Just like the pious samplers of yesteryear, these soundbites extol the virtues of tidy surroundings. To achieve the tidiest of minds, it seems we need to tidy our desk, room, kitchen, house, space, etc. It all reminded me of that other old chestnut, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Now, I realise this blog’s purpose was to look at ways of decluttering my surroundings, hopefully making my life a tad easier in the process, but I’m not entirely sure I want a Tidy Mind. I certainly don’t want the guilt trip of being told my messy surroundings are holding me back in some way, as if the jumble in my kitchen drawers could have some calamitous effect on my thinking processes. And the idea that tidying away the physical clutter will also tidy my head seems a little, well, vacuous.

A recent visitor to my house looked around & declared that she preferred homes which have character… which I accepted as a compliment. My house is not messy, it has character! Furthermore, its inhabitants do stuff. Maybe there is sometimes a little too much evidence of this stuff being done- and maybe that is why I needed to write this blog- but I don’t want an entirely tidy house if the consequence is a tidy mind.

Moving on from the Tidy Mind memes, I discovered a quote far more to my liking:

Creative minds are rarely tidy

Suddenly I warmed to my untidy house. Here was a positive spin on my clutter. Though looking around my immediate surroundings, I also realised nobody in my family is that creative! I guess we do need to do something about all this stuff. Just nothing too drastic. And it has to be a positive move, not a self righteous clearing away of all the weird & wonderful odds and ends that make this place a home.

…which all goes to show, I’m an untidy person who-sort of- wants to be tidier, whilst enjoying my untidiness. I know, what can I do? Maybe a year from now, I’ll have the answer. In the meantime, I’ll take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”   Albert Einstein


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