Monday, September 26, 2016

Clutter Makes Bad Chi!

A few years back, an online friend told me about how her Chinese mom had hired an expert to "feng shui" their home.  Everything in the house seemed just fine until he got to my friend's room where he walked round and round muttering "Clutter makes bad chi! Clutter makes bad chi! Clutter makes bad chi!"  She was really amused by that because she didn't have a lot of junk or general litter; it was just a happily decorated room with all the bits and pieces that she liked, stuff that made her happy.

I believe in having a bit of clutter.  It makes life interesting.  That's something I learned from my folks.

My mother liked setting up little vignettes when she decorated.  I remember a whale's tooth always being next to an antique ship's sextant on the coffee created a silent story of sorts; something to help you imagine the old days of tall ships and interesting journeys.

My stepfather had to travel for business, and he brought home items that he found fascinating:  Aboriginal bark art, a kangaroo pelt, a Victorian brass fireman's helmet.  Those took their place around the living room, too.  We called them "Talking Pieces" because they made you want to ask and discuss.

My grandmother tended to contribute boxes or small wooden things to our family decor.  There was a handmade box of antique ebony dominoes; a slice of olive wood from the Holy Land; a soroban with bone beads.  They were tactile curiosities--things you wanted to pick up and touch and wonder about.

This is the sort of "clutter" that I love.  I cannot imagine it creating "bad chi" because there's so much to be intrigued by.  Something that makes you imagine and ask and wonder has got to be good stuff.

I remember, as a child, how my friends' families decorated with fashion items that they had purchased for the purpose--bunches of glass grapes, Picasso prints, and the like.  It looked nice but you could see the same items from one house to the next.  It wasn't interesting and it wasn't inspiring; it was just there, and it wasn't worth discussing except to say, "My, don't you have a lovely home" just to be polite.  And I still see people decorating that way with whatever current fashion happens to be in style.  That is about people wanting to keep up with the trends but not really showing what is inside of them and not giving anyone else something to think about.

One of my neighbors told me that she always worries about what it's like to have to dust a bunch of stuff when she visits my house.  She's horrified by the idea of having more than two lamps in a living room or anything other than a picture frame on the side tables.  She is possessed by the current fashion for extreme tidying.  My house annoys her.

Me, I'm focused on curiosity, creativity, and comfort.  I have lamps all over the place.  There's a pretty quilt to be cozy with.  There are piles of books, and there are bits and pieces collected by my family--some things that interested them, others that interest me.  Yes, there is a lot to dust but I'm not concerned about dusting--I'm busy building castles in the air and imagining journeys on the wind.  As my mother used to like to quote,
"The world is so full of such wonderful things,
I'm sure that we all should be as happy as kings."

Clutter can be very good chi indeed.

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