How could this very ordinary phenomena of the junk drawer shine light on how we relate to people and things, and give us insight into what may need to be kept, tossed, recycled or repurposed?
You all are bright individuals, and you probably know where I’m going with this. But if you haven’t had your coffee yet, the junk drawer is like your mind that collects beliefs that often get messy, cluttered and become unhelpful. Those beliefs are the basis for our actions and create the reality we live in.
In my household, the junk drawer lives in the kitchen and is often for stuff I don’t know what to do with, but am just positive I’ll need in the future. Like spare dowels from a piece of IKEA furniture. Right next to the handy-dandy hammer, scissors and tape measure lives my old mp3 player (truth) connected to headphones, tangled in a paper clip, attached to a magnet from the refrigerator repair person, stuck to the wood glue I needed for that one project.
It’s the first place I look after asking myself, “If this thing I need exists, where would it live?” So part of what exists in this drawer is very helpful, and there are other bits that no longer serve a purpose. Yet I don’t get rid of them. Why?
Let’s dig into my junk drawer and perhaps it will clear up some of what’s in yours.
Overwhelm lives in my junk drawer – just look at the picture above. Along with indecisiveness and guilt. I can literally feel the genes of my depression-era relatives as I'm torn between throwing out the single paper clip lying forlorn and forgotten at the back of the drawer or walking it upstairs to its brethren in the paper clip box. It’s right next to the super glue that I KNOW is dried up. Well, at least I think so, but maybe if I press real hard the next time I need it, it will magically liquefy and become the magic bond between the sole of my old (and LOVED) hiking shoe and the piece of rubber on the sole that keeps tripping me up on the trail. Don't get me started on the box cutter without a blade or the piece of string that will be perfect for … well, something useful in the future. Justification and hope live in my junk drawer. Hope that all things will find a use at the perfect time and I can say – “See, it was jolly good to hold onto this for the last 7 years!” (justification). So does despair. Despair that my ‘collecting habits’ will keep growing beyond my junk drawer. To a closet, garage and maybe even a storage unit (full disclosure: I have a storage unit).
How we do one thing is how we do all things.
Do you collect friends and hesitate letting them go because you have history together but no real connection? In your work, do you recycle things you’re good at because you can do them, or because they bring you joy? How many habits do you keep around because they’re too complicated to untangle? Are you in a relationship that has beliefs glued to ‘shoulds’ and obligation?
Marie Kondo asks a beautiful and powerful question: does it bring you joy?
If what you spend your energy on doesn’t bring you joy, you’re negotiating your life energy and your time here on earth.
Ouch - how’s that for a perspective shift?
So why would we hang on to things, people and situations that don’t bring us joy, are out of alignment and diminish our vitality? We all do it to be safe, to belong, to fit in to the drawer, to not get judged. We do it so we’ll be loved, and we learned how to do it at a very early age.
This is why we need to evaluate our ‘junk drawers’ on a regular basis to determine if what we’re hanging on to is something we still value, find joy and satisfaction in, and want to spend our life energy on.
What needs to be cleaned up in your life so that you can show up with more zest and vitality, invested in the things and people that feed you and are additive to your life? This requires a great deal of courage. So baby-step it. Literally start with low-hanging fruit so you can build the muscle of discernment.
I dare you to throw one thing out of your junk drawer, and challenge yourself to trust that you’ll have what you need when you need it.
Challenge yourself to plan for THIS moment instead of the What If future because none of us actually know what we'll need in the future until we get there.
Trust more, fear and guilt less. It’s okay to be done with something.
Catch you later - I have a date with my junk drawer.