Open Road Press

When is the last time you cleaned out your closets?

After forty-seven days on the road, and feverishly trying to address overdue work issues thereafter, Debbie and I are still catching up on things around the house. On Saturday, we cleaned out the bicycling closet and made a dent in tidying up our work areas. Our bicycling closet, as you might suspect, contains most of our cycling clothing and gear. Some of the items relate to touring, but are not that useful. Others are just outdated. We have even tossed in items unrelated to bicycling. What was once an organized closet was in a state of disarray.

Clutter: it can really bog a person down. We were reminded of this on our bicycle trips. Life on the road became much simpler than everyday life—and better focused. On a self-supported bicycle tour, you travel with all of your necessary gear on board—no more and, hopefully, no less. No more because carrying extra gear is heavier, which means you can’t make your way up the hills as easily—perhaps not even at all without getting off the bicycle and walking it. If your bicycle is that heavy, you’ve really done yourself a disservice.

The same is true in life. Carrying extra items, whether physical, mental, or emotional, can really slow us down. Owning extra stuff means you must manage it, or at least work around it. Stuff can be challenging to locate (as can other items it smothers). We will eventually need to keep things cleaned and organized, and at some point, we must either move them or discard them. Wouldn’t we rather discard them before it becomes the responsibility of someone else? Carrying excess clutter in the mind challenges clarity of thought and focus of attention, which reduces our capacity to operate efficiently, think sharply, and dream creatively. And lugging too much emotional baggage can bind us and prevent us from experiencing and enjoying meaningful relationships, perhaps even life itself.

Clutter is distracting. Don’t clutter your life with unnecessary things, thoughts, and feelings that only tie you down. Take the time to clean out your “closets.” Some clutter is more easily dispensed of than others, but don’t let that discourage you from tackling a “closet” today.

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