D and I recently began watching the show Hoarders on Netflix and it’s given me much to think about. We’ve been doing a lot of spring cleaning around here- getting rid of things we just don’t need or ever use. Having only seen the first two episodes of the first season, certain things are really hitting me. I have a tendency to save stuff (for lack of a better word), usually things that would be used in my art practice. A few weeks ago when we did the bulk of the clean out, I got rid of almost half of what was in my studio. It was time to acknowledge that certain projects were not going to get done anytime soon, and future art making may not involve the same materials I had been using. It was not easy to let go.
On the the television show, the hoarders seem at first relatively normal in that I understand their rationale (throwing away things is wasteful). And then they do or explain something and you realize that there is a big underlying issue and they need help. Their behavior is emotional distress manifesting in a very real and physical way. This is not just someone overly attached to their belongings, there is clearly much more going on, as the show reveals. Although troubling in a number of ways, one stands out to me in particular watching those episodes. One of the reasons the objects were kept and not thrown away was because the object represented a task the hoarder never completed. Getting rid of the object reminded them of that lack of completion. For example, someone buys apples to make a pie and then never does it. The apples rot, and somehow owning up to this is so difficult they put blinders on so that they don’t notice the smell of the rotting fruit. Yes, spoiling garbage is an extreme and be in such denial as to ignore it is deeply pathological. But it does hit home in a way, we have several incomplete projects in the apartment that, as time goes on, we learn to just live with.
I read somewhere that clutter represents an unmade decision. I wonder what my home would look like, even my life, if I walked through each room and actually made some of the tough calls.