With a sigh, I went and got a tray, a bucket, an old tea towel, an old toothbrush, an old cleaning cloth and a pair of rubber gloves. Suitably armed, I unscrewed the collar holding the sections of pipe together and cautiously, taking care not to look too closely, removed the s-bend section. I tipped the contents onto the tea towel suspended over the bucket, the water drained off and I fished out the clip. Triumph! The tap could now be reconstructed.
But of course, while there I decided I might as well clean out the pipes. They do such constant service disposing of the garden dirt, the dog hair, the toothpaste and whatever else we wash off in the sink. Inevitably, these pipes develop accumulations, let’s call it, caused by microbial action on the fats in the soap.
I won’t go into detail here; you know what I’m talking about. If left alone, these accumulations can start to look like something out of a John Wyndham novel; a growing live thing, slowly choking the life out of the drain until eventually it can only perform its job of disposing water with a series of gurgles, burps and shrieks as the water is sucked through an ever-narrowing aperture.
Now, we have the good fortune to be living in a house only six and a half years old, so the accumulations are not too monstrous yet; nonetheless it was a good chance to take preventative action.
Having finished the first one, (and reconstructed the tap), I moved onto the main bathroom and did that drain as well. Then I couldn’t stop. I did the kitchen sink too, and finally the laundry tub. I might have started on the bath and the showers too but I wasn’t sure how to access their s-bends and anyway, by then it was past breakfast time and I had worked up an appetite.
Pauline and I went on that day to clear out the garden shed as well, and didn’t that feel good. We had piled up so much stuff in there that we had to delicately high-step over things near the door to reach things we wanted near the back. So much dried lawn clippings had gathered on the floor from the underside of the mower we could have stuffed a pillow case with them and slept on it.
Clearing the clutter is a good idea. A highly symbolic activity for the first day of a new year, of course, but a really useful activity any time. You find things you had been wondering about, throw out stuff you thought might be useful one day but haven’t touched in five years, and organise what’s left so it’s now really useful, and easily accessed.
Clearing the clutter doesn’t just relate to material things either. Clearing out old emotional baggage, or really doing some honest thinking about issues that are bothering us, and that might require us to step outside our comfort zone, can be even less pleasant than unclogging accumulations in a drain. That’s why we tend to put it off until there’s a gooey creature growing in our psyche that threatens to choke our progress through life.
Taking steps to unburden ourselves of some baggage, or to make some changes that will benefit us, doesn’t have to mean years of therapy, cost or pain. It can be as simple as getting paper and pen and writing it all down. Don’t hold back, it’s only for your use so just blurt it all out on paper until you don’t have anything left to say. Then tear it all up and dispose of it. You can write on computer instead, just don’t be tempted to save it as a file; the whole point is to get it out and let it go.
Or talk to someone you can really trust to just listen to you, and who won’t tell you what to do or judge you. Just listening to yourself saying things, or hearing someone else make a simple observation, can reveal remarkable insights and lead to a fresh way of thinking about a problem that unties the knot and releases a burst of energy to move in a new direction.
Don’t wait for next New Year’s Day … clearing clutter is a healthy activity for any time.