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Continued: Americans' lives? Too cluttered.

  • Article by: HOWARD MANSFIELD
  • Last update: September 25, 2013 - 9:30 PM

If we believe the gospel according to decluttering gurus, an awakening awaits those who clean house. Somewhere under all the junk is what we think we’ve lost — our home, our family, our sanity, our soul.

But the decluttering gurus can only provide a material solution to a spiritual problem. They are confusing symptoms and causes.

A cluttered house with a never-used piano or family dinner table buried under junk is a symptom of materialism run amok. It’s not the cause. You may be no more happy or wise in a cleaner house.

This mess is us.

Forget the lists of seven simple steps that morph into hundreds of steps, forget the “in-home design consultation” with the California Closets organizer. The lesson that the lists seldom arrive at is this: Our lives are finite.

That’s the lesson we never want to hear.

Ignore the decluttering gurus who pile step upon step. Don’t clutter your life with preparation and endless lists. Take this advice from the decluttering coach who calls herself “FlyLady”: Grab 27 things and remove them. Repeat.

What’s keeping you from living?

Throw it all away, step over it, push it into a corner, into the garage, barn, storage shed. Mice, rats, mold, mildew will have their way.

Just go live your life.

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Howard Mansfield is the author of the newly published “Dwelling in Possibility: Searching for the Soul of Shelter.” He wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times.

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