Clutter, Emptiness


I struggle with clutter, emptiness.

At times my mind feels cluttered. Thoughts pile up like one of those 40-car wrecks on the Interstate. There’s poetry in the crash, but the thoughts are difficult to separate and impossible to drive away. It’s why I’m attracted to stories with layers, ruffles, depth, holes: these are stories about me, about what it’s like to struggle with clutter. What’s it like to have more thoughts than space to think them. That’s what feelings are.

I often wake in the morning with some new idea — send that novel excerpt to my agents, dig that old Calvin Klein bag out and get it sewn up, go back to sleep.

Yesterday morning I woke with the thought of an empty room. Like, a Zen temple. Empty. Fragrant and far from here. It felt safe and comforting, and I returned to it throughout the day.

I spent yesterday cleaning out my files, which proved emotional. I have a meeting Monday with my agents and manager to strategize what I’m going to write next, and I was partly going through just to find all my uncompleted projects, idea files, notes. I was happy and dismayed to see how many there were, ideas and projects — happy because I’ll have a lot to pitch, dismayed because this material represents years of my life that could have been spent earning money for this same output —

This is what I mean by clutter. This is in my head, so it’s in my files. It’s in my living room. It accumulates, in a pile of twenty scripts on the dining room floor. In drifts of post-its covered with notes from many different projects. I have trouble letting go of things. Because without my things, the feeling is — I won’t have more things. I’ll be left with what I have. Emptiness.

I am rich in emptiness. So I gather, I accumulate — thoughts, notes, clutter — in order to fill that. My things make me feel like I have — something.

But clutter takes from me, because what I am is — empty. Clutter surrounds me, like fat, like drugs, keeps me from expressing what I really am. Empty.

The more days I wake with the thought of an empty Zen room, the more I can hold that, the safer I’ll feel letting go of my things. Accepting that all I am is — empty.

Clutter is denial, resistance. Emptiness is what I am.