Clutter or Creation?

DSCN1641This is the image that greets me when I open my laptop. It’s a picture of Mansker’s Fort at Historic Mansker’s Station, in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. This structure is a replica of the original, built in 1783 by my great, great, great, great, great uncle and aunt, Kasper and Elizabeth Mansker.

I keep this image on my desktop for a number of reasons:

  • I’m an armchair genealogist and enjoy incorporating my past into my present, so I’m sure to pass it on in the future.
  • Unlike a more current picture that would eventually feel dated or be distracting, this image is plain enough to be innocuous and pleasant enough to be timeless.
  • I find it helpful to have a front and center reminder of a time when people made use of everything, did more with less, and didn’t take luxuries for granted.

I don’t romanticize earlier eras, when running water came from a creek and a hot bath required hours of preparation. I know the days were long and the work was hard, but I also imagine creativity was encouraged and even fostered, as folks were forced to make something out of whatever they had. There are periods where my hands remain idle for weeks at a time, but my brain longs to be engaged in some sort of problem-solving or creative endeavor. I suppose that’s what inspired Pinterest.

So, I live each day in the tension of two very strong sides of my personality – the side that wants to make something out of everything and the side that longs for a clutter-free existence. My counters and tables are rarely clear, covered in projects and potential, constantly tempting me to throw some things away, if only for the instant gratification of a (somewhat) clean home.

I take comfort in knowing that both sides have value and are a benefit to more than me. My inner organizer wrangles the school work and deadlines and grocery lists that would otherwise overwhelm our household. And the maker in me engages my children, treads lightly on the earth, and connects with the maker I married, who (thank God) is content to live with me amid clutter or creation.