In my bedroom I have what is known as “The Chair.”

It sounds nefarious, sure – but really, it’s anything but. It’s a black computer chair that squeaks when it’s sat on. It’s all torn up from a pet cat’s claws, and I stopped using it ages ago because sitting in it hurts my back. At least, I stopped using it in the conventional sense. Now, “The Chair” is typically home to piles of laundry.

Clean laundry, mind you. I’m not a savage.Currently, “The Chair” is home to an Avengers blanket and my comforter, both folded, so all in all, not too bad. It could be worse, anyway.

I try not to let the laundry pile up. I always start my laundry days with the best of intentions, to knock out all the important loads – fitness clothes, blacks (I wear a lot of black,) graphic tees, and work clothes – and have them all folded and put away by bedtime. Sadly, they occasionally remain “intentions,” and at the end of the day, I’ve got a stack of unfolded laundry on “The Chair” and it’s six hours before my alarm is set to go off in the morning, and I have to tumble my clothes for an additional ten minutes in the morning to get the wrinkles out.

When I was in college, I lived alone for a while and I didn’t have to worry about sharing the washing machine, so I did laundry “whenever”. One night, I was trying to do math homework, had some rerun of “Friends” playing for background noise, it was four hours before I needed to wake up for my 8AM class, and I was sitting in a pile of clean clothes, which was growing more and more wrinkled by the minute. My friend from back home texted me about how her day had gone, and when she asked me about mine, I replied, “I’m sitting in a pile of laundry.”

It was a pretty accurate statement about my life, at that point. I was that pile of laundry. I was barely a functioning human. I managed to get it together in the subsequent years of my college experience, but for a while, it was rough.

I think “The Chair” manifests in various forms for other people. It might be “The Drawer” instead. I have one of those, too. That drawer in your home that has a ton of junk in it. Nothing of real value, but you might have use for it someday, so you hold onto it “just in case.” Miscellaneous user manuals, clothespins, packs of disposable ponchos, a random deck of cards… and that’s just the stuff I can see without digging through it too much. Recently, I cleaned out a mini filing-cabinet I had in my closet. You know what was in it? Every birthday card I’ve ever gotten in my life. Yeah. 24 years worth of birthday cards. My email inbox has 23,000 unread messages in it. I used to keep tons of shoe boxes in my closet because “What if I need them again someday?”

“The Chair” does, to some extent, reflect my laziness, but it also represents my cluttered brain. I look at it, at the jeans and t-shirts and cardigans draped over the arms, and I feel instantly overwhelmed. Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is fold laundry. Sometimes, I think of all the other things I have to do, and all the things I have, or don’t have, going on, and it all comes crashing down, and I feel crushed beneath those capris and 3/4th sleeve tees. The “why bothers?” creep in, and I go to bed with my laundry unfolded. And it may stay that way for days.

It comes and goes, over time. I have learned, gradually, that even when I don’t want to – even when the clothes seem like an insurmountable obstacle, like Atlas lifting the world – it is always, always worth the effort to fold my clothes and put them all away right after taking them out of the dryer. I always feel significantly better afterward. It’s such a small thing, and it seems silly. But sometimes, it’s just a little boost to help propel me through the rest of the day. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

It’s doing things like that, bit by bit, that makes the struggle a bit easier for someone who has a mind like mine – one that shuts down when it goes into overload, and might not reboot for a little while. Laundry has, in a strange way, shown me that de-cluttering, one step at a time, is a vital skill. It takes patience, and discipline, but with enough of both, you can make your life cleaner, and clearer, and less crowded.

So I’ll keep on folding, one shirt at a time. Deleting one email at a time. Shredding one stupid, junk credit card offer after another. Until someday, there might not even be a need for “The Chair” or “The Drawer” or the “Mini Filing-Cabinet.”


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