junk detox

“We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside which holds whatever we want” Lao Tzu

“We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside which holds whatever we want” Lao Tzu

To the friend who sent me these words today, being in the same boat:
the first step to getting what you want is having the courage to get rid of what you don’t

You said it reminded you of some advice I’d given and I want to say I’m sorry.
About the advice I mean. It was a glib show;
dressed up in the satin-slippery glamour of poetic quotes
it got in the way of nakedly saying I don’t know.

For the state I’m in right now lends itself to purging
In between bouts of nausea I’m prowling madly through the house, making a mess
as I dig like a dangerous animal searching for prey
killing anything that doesn’t give me beauty, joy or usefulness.

All these corpses. It’s not just objects past their goodbye date I’m hunting down;
I’ve unhooked myself from every online magazine self-help program and blog
business or otherwise I’ve collected over the years
sick of their reproachful unread status cluttering up my inbox

I want surfaces. Space. Emptiness.
Sell up. Sweep out all the stuff inside my head I think I know
and start all over again. Beginner’s Mind.
It’s all marked down. Like those huge sales where everything must go.

Being empty I’ll have no more advice to give
nor can it come regurgitated from the mouth of social media, a thousand-fold said
I’m blocking those channels; trading aphorisms seems a poor exchange
when something risky, still unspoken, intoxicating could be said instead

So it’s quite uncanny you sent me what you did
for it’s only from this newly spacious mind that I can say
how much I like it that someone on the other side of night
thinks of me in the emerging light of day

Making me wonder
what I want to make all this space for

12 thoughts on “junk detox

  1. Goodness Nina. This made me take a fresh breath of air–it is the most refreshing thing I have read in a long time. You put into words so much of what I had been wrestling with! At some point, I may wish to refer to this in a hyperlink in something I write–would that be okay? Keep sticking to your values–even if you receive pressure to do otherwise.



  2. Clearing physical clutter is great fun and very necessary in one’s quest for creating a sense of “space” – physically and emotionally. I believe clearing emotional clutter requires acknowledged ownership first and foremost – who put that stuff in that “bowl” in the first place. If we acknowledge that the clutter we have created in our own emotional lives was put there by us it is surely good to rid ourselves of that which we now feel we truly don’t need. Best not to blame others for putting it there though. Much would be lost that way that perhaps we don’t really want to lose.


    • Yes! There was a certain savage joy in getting rid of the junk stuff in my home! 🙂 And I like that about acknowledging emotional clutter as being created by ourselves – it always is. Then again, I think everything begins with ourselves – which is why blaming others is so futile.


  3. awesome as always nina. i’ve missed your posts.

    i had a friend who always used to tell me that “a dirty room makes for a clouded mind.” and so i do my best to keep my possessions at a minimum. the less you have, the more you cherish the things you keep.


    • Yes Misha! It always amazes me how clearing one’s physical space can result in less “clouded” thinking as your friend says. And for me the value of clearing lies in being able to make space for what truly belongs in your life, what you really cherish – which perhaps you couldn’t see for the clutter. Thanks for visiting! 🙂


  4. Ah if only life were this simple. Lets just get rid of everything that we don’t want or kill anything that does not give us beauty, joy, or is useful.

    This is not the natural order of life Nina. We must live alongside much that is not beautiful, joyfully or event useful to us. The rose has thorns. We don’t ignore the beauty of the rose because the thorns may prick us.


    • I completely agree with you Mike. You’re right. Life’s not that simple and no, we can’t just get rid of everything we don’t like or want in our lives – we have to engage with it, let the friction and difficulty of it shape us into more complete human beings. Far from ignoring the beauty of a rose because of its thorns, I would appreciate them. (They are useful after all!) Protecting the rose so that its beauty can exist. It was in the context of physical objects in my environment and de-cluttering my head-and-cyber space that I wrote this poem though; I think that’s a helpful thing to do from time to time. For me there’s clarity in simplifying. And it’s interesting to see what wants to come in when one clears the space. What truly belongs… Thank you Mike, for commenting.


Share your thoughts on this post

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s