Cutter is a form of interruption. Space is interrupted by objects. It can be as large as a building that blocks the sun and view. It can be small, like a living room loaded with collections on shelves, floor, and furniture

Reactions to clutter can run from like, tolerate, and abhor. I fall somewhere between tolerate and abhor. If it’s my clutter, like. Others clutter – abhor. Clutter is stuff you think you need, you want, you can’t part with. As soon as I step across the threshold and encounter a cluttered room, I form an opinion and I don’t feel comfortable.

Beaches, forests, lakes, mountains, hills, and meadows are clutter escape hatches. To to one of these places is to reorder mental clutter. After an uncluttered experience and return to a cluttered environment, the person might ask themselves…”Why do I keep all this stuff?” Garage sales are held so they people selling old stuff can buy new stuff. Or they may be moving and say. “How did I accumulate all this stuff?” if it was a gift, it is nice to show respect by keeping it.

I’ve seen photos of minimalist living quarters. The walls are bare. There is hardly furniture…maybe a chair and table. The people who live in this kind of environment chose to stay clear of the task of taking care of their stuff, protecting it, and eventually, finding room for more. They maximize calm and they see what’s not there. Empty is the new full.

Here’s an example. I volunteered to help set up hundreds of books for a used book sale. Eventually the room was packed with table after table of books. After just a few minutes, I stopped searching for a title I’d like. I had to leave. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. I needed balance. Outdoors, less clutter, mind clears. I drove to a pier on the bay and parked. I saw the horizon. This alone relieved my stress. Open space is necessary for everyone. What is there is not there…space, minimal information. This is the kind of place we all need from time to time. Nature is relevant, intelligent, and related. We experience networks of ecological connection.

Seeing nature is a holistic experience, a bigger picture experience. You are not closed in by walls. There are no boundaries. Nature is not cluttered. We all need “not there” experiences, away from job, house, neighborhood, traffic,and away from our monkey minds that jump and sway from tree to tree.

Where can you go to get away from busy, from speed, and noise, what’s not there is the there we need to find.

Tom Stock

Tom Stock has been involved in the Long Island environmental and outdoor education community for decades.

He has published two books; THE NISSEQUOGUE RIVER: A JOURNEY and HIDDEN AGENDA; A POETRY JOURNEY.He has also published many essays and poems in such journals as the Long Island Forum and The Long Islander.

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