Empty Cup

On occasion I like to totally clean house. It’s hard to do with a wife and three kids. The house isn’t just full of my stuff, but theirs’ too. Much as I’d sometimes like to, I can’t simply box up their books and movies and knick-knacks and cart them off to Good Will, as I’ve done with most of my things over the course of the last decade.

We’ve spent a ton of time and energy over the last few years paring down our belongings. Decide what’s valuable and keep it. Decide what’s superfluous and get rid of it. It’s a simple concept until you actually try it. And with five people in the house, clutter is inevitable no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

What’s sometimes more frustrating is mental clutter. Even metaphorically, it’s hard to clean house when the stuff I want to get rid of is not my own.

Mind clutter piles up and becomes overwhelming. I can’t hear myself think because of all the noise inside my brain, let alone all the noise and distractions from outside.

So many outside influences affect the quantity and quality of mental clutter. Sometimes it’s nice to just cut it off. Ignore every book on the shelf. Ignore all the movies. Ignore the computer, the tablet, the phone, and the mp3 player, along with any other electronic distractions. Turn off the TV and anything else that makes noise.

Ahh, silence. A moment of bliss.

Until somebody, any one of the other four people in my house speaks, or turns on the computer, or does anything else that breaks the silence.

That’s when I get the urge to go for a walk. Alone.

Not that I don’t love having all four of my housemates in my life. They all bring me joy in myriad ways, every day, and life would be meaningless without them.

But when the mental cacophony reaches a fevered pitch, it’s time to clean house.

Sometimes a short walk does the trick. Sometimes it takes a long walk. Either way, it’s silence I seek. Without silence, I can’t shut my brain up long enough to think.

It’s like the metaphor of a cup that’s so full it’s overflowing. There’s no room for the cup to hold another drop, and still, we keep trying to fill it.

Sometimes I want to turn the cup upside down.

Boil all the Voluntary Simplicity Movement and minimalist ideas down to their most basic elements and the concepts become, well, simple. Just turn the cup upside down every once in a while. You can fill an empty cup with anything you chose.

In a full cup you can only tread water.

Or drown.

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