The Human Brain is Like an Attic

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“The human brain is like an attic. A storage space for facts. But because that space is finite, it must be filled only with the things one needs to be the best version of oneself. It’s important, therefore, not to have useless facts, the natterings that comprise a typical support group meeting, for example, crowding out useful ones.”  –Sherlock Holmes, Elementary

I have discovered over the years that both my brain and my physical space have become so cluttered that I feel trapped, unable to dig my way out of the junk to make progress toward the future I desire.  It is my goal now to clear out this clutter, both mental and physical, to find space and time to pursue my dreams.

Regarding physical clutter – I was raised by grandparents who were children during the Great Depression.  While the mentality of holding onto items you may need someday does have some practical value, it starts to lose its value when every little scrap of thread or fabric, every empty container or broken toy is tucked away “just in case”.  That scrap is too small to use.  That container won’t hold anything I reasonably might want to store.  That toy is beyond repair, and even if it wasn’t there is no child around who would ever want to play with it.

These items breed chaos and guilt.  Chaos in that the house looks messy and is unpleasant to live in.  Chaos in that it’s hard to find the items I actually want to use, so interesting projects are left untackled.  Guilt, both in terms of not tackling those interesting projects and in having all those unused little bits and bobs that I surely should have found a use for by now.  

Regarding mental clutter – I am not by any means saying that I agree with the notion that useful information will be forgotten if I allow myself to learn things that are supposedly less useful.  The future I see for myself is filled with acting and writing, and in both of those pursuits there is use for nearly anything I could learn.  This is probably why they appeal to me.  My interests are so varied and my attention span so short, that although I may have fantasized about being a doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut, the reality is that I’m much better off pretending to be any number of things for a limited time, then moving on to something new.

The problem I encounter with my varied interests is that I have accumulated so many of them in a little over three decades that there are not even remotely enough hours in the day to pursue them all to the extent that they deserve.  So now each interest is a bit neglected, and mainly serving as a distraction from the interests I care about most.

In no particular order: poetry, playwriting, acting, knitting, crochet, photography, genealogy, cooking, gardening, chainmaille, languages, web design, and on and on.  In some cases, the mental clutter even leads to physical clutter – such as the enormous stash of yarn I’ve collected because it was free or ridiculously cheap and surely I’ll knit it one day.  Let’s be honest: I won’t.  I do not churn out knitted items.  I occasionally get a whim to knit something and then I knit it and then it’s over for a month or two or three.

With regards to mental clutter, my goal is not to throw away the interests I have nor to forget what I’ve learned about them, but to reassess what I do and how it can be used to further my progress toward my primary goals.  That is, how can it help me become the best version of myself?

In this blog, I plan to explore both the process of decluttering and organizing (hopefully with insights that others can use to declutter and organize their own lives) and the application of my scattered interests and random knowledge toward a more unified life goal.

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