By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
Many of us spent more than our usual amount of time in the past year or so sifting, sorting – and tossing stuff we have been collecting.
De-cluttering has been a rallying cry for individuals and home design mavens around the world.
Getting rid of clutter had been a challenge – if not mythical ideal for many of us.
Cleaning up has become something like a moral campaign – https://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/solutions/conquering-clutter.
But even as we see stuff we “should” get rid of, we might run into those things that might matter only to us.
These are the fragments, the detritus, the broken pieces of our history, experiences and relationships,
I know people who have saved ticket stubs from concerts, tiny pebbles from places visited, various animal themed artifacts or foreign coins from around the world (guilty!).
When we are dead and gone, few if any would appreciate or care about our sometimes accidental collections.
And while we are still living, those so helpful friends or relatives urge us to get rid of our “stuff”.
But just as we have uncovered what is of little value to us, some of us have rediscovered those seemingly random artifacts that are of great value to us.
Those yellowed and curling newspaper clippings? Those faded and unidentifiable photos (many in black and white)?
Those were important, if not cherished by someone, sometime.
Maybe even you at a long forgotten, neglected portion of your life.
The apostles of de-cluttering might be feeling queasy, but a resurgence of what might be called clutter appreciation is upon us.
And it makes sense.
Besides my personal bias (combined with a bit of inertia when it comes to the sometimes harsh filtering and sorting process that could easily take over my life), I find this #cluttercore revival a bit liberating.
De-cluttering and its aesthetic of bare-bones minimalism was real work and came with a side-order of guilt if not OCD obsessiveness.
But the lived-in bottom line is that our stuff, the remnants of our experiences, literally defines and frames who we are, where have been and what we cared about at various stages of our lives.
Of course, it has to have a name and hashtag; #Cluttercore.
I don’t know if this is Marie Kondo’s fashion sense expiration date, but something, new, unexpected and perhaps unsurprising seems to be upon us.
As one recent article put it “the maximalist ‘Cluttercore’ craze celebrates the quirkiness of mismatched belongings and permits us all to fill our interiors with assorted goods that celebrate our memories, interests, and personalities” (you can see the full piece here: https://www.homesandgardens.com/news/cluttercore-trend).
It might be clutter to the uninitiated, but every scrap of our past, those unread books, and half-written notes, even those unfinished projects are the skeletal remains of an idea, a vision, a passion expressed or abandoned.
Those notes from a class, those unfortunate fashion choices, maybe even a CD or vinyl record that escaped previous purges, they all capture or represent, like nothing else, a significant, maybe even memorable segment of our lives.
Picture your clutter-hoard, not as “stuff” to be Goodwilled, but as the artifacts of the museum of your life.
And, in a crazy time like now, these odd tidbits act as a tribute, a reminder of an era of memories and experiences and relationships that may have come and gone, but are evidence that times were different then – our lives were different then.
This, for once, is not an expensive, elitist designer trend.
You won’t find this in stores, you almost certainly already have everything.
In fact, as the article mentioned above puts it, “At its heart, Cluttercore is an exuberant celebration of our homes and our love of interiors – layers of color, pattern, and texture; surfaces and walls filled with artworks and accessories; keepsakes and trinkets given the same consideration as expensive purchases.”
There is an ineffable comfort found in our stuff, the flotsam that collected around us when we weren’t looking.
Cluttercore is the embracing of the eclectic, unpredictable chaos of our lives. There’s a comfort there that won’t be found anywhere else. https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20210430-cluttercore-the-joy-of-a-maximalist-home
So celebrate who you are, commemorate your accomplishments, discoveries and disasters.
We are, literally, the life we have lived.
The things we have gathered tell our story like nothing else.
Every object holds a story – if only we could read it.
When I’m dead and gone, feel free to toss all that unsorted, random stuff, but as you toss it, remember that you are tossing the accoutrements, the residue, the literal evidence of a life lived.