Of Clutter, Closets and Creativity

When the US Army sent our family to Panama, we lived the first two months in an apartment with government supplied furniture and something called "hold baggage."

The thing about hold baggage is that you have to decide what you absolutely positively need under a certain weight limit. It's a bit like that game where you decide what to keep and what to throw overboard when your ship is sinking and you are about to be stranded on a desert island.

Here's the thing. I learned two huge life lessons while living with only rented furniture and hold baggage. 1) You actually don't need that much stuff. 2)When you don't own stuff, you have a lot more time.

It makes sense when you think about it. Stuff has to be used, organized, cleaned, and dealt with...all of which takes time.

I took the lessons to heart, and though we don't live an ascetic lifestyle--I still like pretty and useful things--I am in the habit of donating any and everything that isn't used often. Which means for the most part, I don't have to search through a lot of "might need that someday" when going through my cabinets, drawers or closet.

Except...for two shirts I bought in Panama.

They are men's shirts, so they've never quite fit right, but the molas on them (indigenous artwork by the Kuna Indians) are incredible. Year after year, the two shirts have hung at the back of the closet mocking my goal of efficient living, but I found myself unwilling to part with the shirts because I would lose the artwork.

This weekend, I had an incredible flash of inspiration. I could ditch the shirts while keeping the artwork. So, with a pair of scissors and a few inexpensive frames I purchased from Walmart, the art now hangs on my wall, solving the blank spot in my bedroom and silencing the violation of my personal closet code. (Yes, I know I sound dangerously like Monica on Friends. But in my own defense, I do try to keep my OCD limited to my own personal space as evidenced by my daughter, Bethany's room.)
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall