How cleaning out the junk drawer can fix your life

How cleaning out the junk drawer can fix your life

Thinking of hanging a valentine decoration on my window this afternoon, I went searching for one of those little suction cup hanger thingies… the kind you get for a dangly little decoration that you might want to hang in a window on a car. Now, if this item was in my possession, it would almost surely be in the junk drawer in the kitchen. [Let’s not pretend you don’t know exactly which drawer I’m talking about, even if yours is somewhere else.]

I go to the drawer, heart in hand (the decoration was a large red heart), and attempt to open the junk drawer but it balks. Setting the heart on the table I use both hands and manage to jiggle it and pull so that it bursts open, nearly spilling some of its contents onto the floor.

Now just last night I made a pretty lengthy search of the drawer for a wine key, digging front and back and then finding one under the scissors and a roll of masking tape. So I realized that the search for something smaller was going to be a bigger challenge. What the hell, I was in no hurry… I decided I’d organize the drawer a bit while I look. I really wish I’d taken a picture.

I started with making a little pile of rubber bands and twistie ties. I keep these because they are useful. For example, I use skinny little rubber bands to fix our back door handle when it breaks. There’s an ancient mechanism inside a cartridge in my door that requires a spring to retract the “latch bolt” when you turn the knob. I didn’t know where to find the spring to replace it when it broke, so my solution is to use rubber bands. They don’t last as long (probably) but they do the job perfectly. I also put a rubber brand (the thick produce kind) around my tub-stopper so that water doesn’t leak while I’m taking a bath. And twistie ties are used as poor-mans wine charms on my three remaining stemmed wineglasses, and (of course) to keep all my frozen veggie bags closed. But I digress…

Anyhoodle, I forgot all about my little valentine heart and my search for a suction cup (about the only thing I didn’t find in my drawer), and organized all the other stuff I found in there while also throwing out random pen caps and broken rubber bands and paper clips along with a bunch of snipped off tops from gogurts, icees, and soy sauce packets, because I keep the scissors in that drawer and apparently no one in my house can find the garbage can (*it is right under this drawer).

By the time I was done I had amassed a treasure trove of useful household items that I thought we only had one of but had many. Like the scissors… there were like, 5? There were 4 wine keys. Paint brushes… markers… carabiners… box cutters… screwdrivers… and tons of rubber bands.


This got me thinking. Like this drawer, my life lately has been a mess… hardly functional and weighed down in the mire of stress and anxiety over finances and trying to get a job. Honestly, I’ve barely been keeping myself together.

Now that I have cleaned this drawer, and made it accessible and useful again, with helpful items able to be produced when needed… maybe I can apply the same strategy to my life. Perhaps my own mind has become a junk drawer… full of unorganized thoughts and ideas weighed down in everyday junk. Perhaps if I can separate the junk and organize the rest I can develop a mindset that will guide me to a new job or new career.

After all, I am a believer in the truth of fractals. If you don’t know what a fractal is, it is a pattern that repeats forever. They can be seen all around nature and the theory of fractals has been used in everything from music to economics. My understanding of fractals in my own life can be summed up with something you’ve heard before: cluttered desk, cluttered mind. Basically, if you find that you’re a messy sort: your bed is not made, your purse and/or car has trash and old chips bags in it, you’re constantly having to search for things that are misplaced, etc… well, that is your pattern, your fractal, your repeating self-symmetry. But the great thing about this, is you can change this! Change your pattern anywhere, change it in the simplest way possible, and you can change the whole fractal.

So I, today, just on a whim… after feeling that my life was a mess and I had no hope to get any better… I made a change. I organized the junk drawer. And then I went upstairs and made my bed. If I keep this up and little by little organize and declutter my surroundings, slowly, bit by bit, I’ll be changing the patterns internally. Decluttering my home and restructuring my thought patterns. All because I was looking for one little suction cup that I never even found.


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