In The Way


Earlier today I found this piece in my Google Drive.  I had saved it there on August 8th, 2014.

I was recently divorced but somehow already involved in a toxic relationship, living alone for the first time ever (at the ripe old age of 38), drowning in oceans of paper and unpleasant memories.

Having never lived alone, I was truly overwhelmed with the magnitude of trying to take care of both the house and the yard plus the pets and myself.  I was hungry too, thus far I had never learned to cook.

And then one day I was alone.

Sort of.

Alone, but all the stuff was still there.


The good news is that I learned to cook and the bad news is that cooking just added to the mess that I already could not keep up with.

The clutter was about to reach mushroom cloud proportions.

The following story sounds like it’s about stuff – but it’s never really about stuff, is it?

The real clutter that keeps us in the fortress is obligation with no return on investment: toxic relationships are the clutter no one wants to discuss.  Toxic relationships with other people, with our means of earning a living, with outstanding debt for which we have nothing to show.  THIS is the clutter that builds the real fortress.  The toxic relationship that must be addressed is the one we have with ourselves.

I wrote this over a year and a half ago.  I remember sitting in the only clear space in the house, writing it on my Nook because I could not stand to sit at my computer desk.  I was unhappy then but I felt that the stars were orchestrating massive changes, I just had no idea what they had in mind and, frankly, I wished they would hurry the hell up!

It is now January of 2016 and my life is on a completely different trajectory.

While I still struggle to contain the stuff – like unopened mail and such – I promised myself that I would root out the toxic clutter from my life and banish it forever.

I’ve done well.  I’ve been true to myself.  I found an awesome life partner and for this I am particularly thankful.


written August, 8, 2014

All my life I’ve been immune to clutter. I just didn’t see it, it didn’t bother me. The purpose of empty space was to put something in it. I was indifferent to the clutter until one day, not that long ago, I wasn’t.

I woke up one morning and realized that I was drowning in clutter. It was everywhere.  Where does all this stuff even come from? How did it get here? Most importantly, why won’t it pick itself up?

When I finally started to see the clutter in my environment, I began to understand some other things as well.  For one thing, I saw that all this stuff was literally robbing me of my living space. I could not think or function in my own home and furthermore did not enjoy spending time there. This lead to spending a lot of time and money in coffee shops with wi-fi while the clutter continued to free load off of me, claiming squatter’s rights in my personal space.

It also came to my attention that our external conditions are the physical manifestation of our internal conditions. Clutter is not a coincidence, it means something.  So, for a time, I stopped looking at the house and started looking in the mirror. What’s going on in here, I wondered?

What was going on was a lifetime of out of control clutter.  Mental clutter, intellectual clutter, emotional clutter, personal clutter, professional clutter. It was as if I had never learned to sort things out, never learned to prioritize, never learned to discard things that no longer served me because I feared that I might still need them some day.  Inside was an even bigger mess than the outside!

Lastly, I realized that all this stuff had created a terrific fortress and that I was not at all happy about being trapped inside of this thing.  I not only wanted, but needed, to bring improvement into my life. Different and better circumstances, people, and things but the problem was that the fortress was keeping them away because it was hogging up all the space.  I could not attract better things into my life because I literally had no place to put them!

The first step in getting what you want is letting go of what is in the way.


Author: d. Nelle Vincent

I write stories about wine and the human condition because the devil, as they say, is in the details.

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