Closets for a time have been somewhat of a fascination. Not really for their mere existence, I do not believe, but for how people use them. Some hold treasures from long ago, others hold mysteries only to be claimed by those brave enough to enter. Some hold skeletons and yet others a safe haven, a private sanctuary. What it comes down to for me is human behavior and our relationship with stuff. But first a little history on closets.
Like many things closets were an amenity only to be had by the wealthy. Why? Because they were the only ones that had stuff enough to put in them. Not only did they have stuff enough to put in them but they had the space to dedicate to store all their extra stuff (a.k.a. luxury items.) Now, this is not the only purpose of closets in times of old, but it is related and that is the storage of armaments, guns and the like. Which if we follow a certain logic could only be afforded by those who had their everyday expenses more than covered for. These not so oddly were called armoires by the french meaning tall cabinet used as storage for their armories. A term that endures to this day as a piece of storage furniture for stuff. One not so common name for a storage "closet" or piece of furniture is the Chiffonier translated as "rag-picker" or "rag-gatherer". I particularly enjoy the name because of its implications of being a storage space for odds and ends that had no other place in the household.
This is where I can come back to the present and say this has definitely been my experience with both storage closets, as in separate niches in a room, and storage furniture. I used them as a place to store stuff; either I didn't use or use often and stuff that had neither a place or space to be a part of my everyday experience. A rather slippery slope idea that ultimately led me to too much stuff. Stuff is easy enough to acquire if not for free then very cheaply. Especially as an artist who uses found objects this is super easy because I have the tendency to see the potential in everything. I do not happen to think that seeing the potential in everything is a bad thing, but it can lead to too much accumulated stuff that ultimately just takes up space.
-Since I will be full time living in a motorhome soon, space is something that is at a premium. So instead of thinking I need more stuff to fill the space, I am thinking what stuff do I really need to make this space a functioning studio and living space. In a way it is like trying to live and work in the amount space equal to that of some peoples walk in closets. Which had I had that mind set all along no matter what space I inhabited, I think I would have had more time to do other things of interest rather than always care taking my stuff; whether that looks like innumerable loads of laundry, continuous dusting of trinkets, sinkfulls of dishes, picking up forgotten trash wrappers, destroying then picking up something forgotten on the floor, or losing other things among all the stuff I really did not want or need anyway.
So somewhere along this journey the closet became an interesting area to think about and a somewhat unwanted space for me. I do not believe that most people actually need closets. Sure we need places to organize and put our stuff that we use, but I would say that chances are if its in a closet to begin with most times it does not get used, or used often enough to justify keeping. These unused things, whether from childhood or unwanted gifts from six Christmas's ago, are just taking up space and are not free to live on to fulfill their potential either. Am I saying that we should all live a minimal lifestyle? Absolutely not. Only if that is what is right for you. What I am saying is that holding onto things that no longer have a significant role to play in our life I think hold us back as individuals. They serve as triggers for past memories which is great and everything but I think keeps us engaged intellectually with the past and not engaged in the present.
But this a whole other blog post, All I am trying to say is that we all have stuff in our lives that no longer serves a purpose or that we are hanging on to just in case or that triggers a certain memory, but at the end of the day how is it effecting you in the present. I know that having closets full of stuff did not beneficially serve my mental health. I encourage everyone to evaluate the stuff in your life. And just because you have the space does not mean you have to fill it. After all if it is full then where is there room for the present?
To quote Alice Morse Earle, "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it's called the present."
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