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Cherish time with friends, not stuff

Summer is waning. The temperatures are teasing below 100 degrees. School has started. Where has the time gone? How did the days fly by so quickly? What did I accomplish in the past four months?

I had such great goals for the summer. I am getting to that age when I look around and say to myself, "What am I doing with all this stuff?" A couple of hundred cookbooks line my shelves. My cupboards are cluttered with baking dishes that I thought were a great idea or I received as a gift, which I haven't used once. From acquaintances (my real friends know I am not into such things) are piles of trinkets from birthdays or knick-knacks, all of which gather dust by the pound. Papers with project ideas and their related material, ribbon and more sit on my table and chairs. I find I can't even invite a friend to share a meal for lack of an uncluttered table. It is a wonder I can traverse my way through my rooms.

And then there is the storage shed. What an anomaly. Storage! Shed! It is more like a proverbial black hole. Packed to the rafters are items taken out to the shed to store for safety and to be close at hand. I may need them one day, right? So, someone please tell me — when is "needed" and please define "close at hand"?

I know there are items truly valuable to me out in that black hole, but in which box? How far back is the box buried? It all reminds me of the closing scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

In a gallant effort to declutter, my stated goal of April and great plan was to take out at least one box a week from the black hole (Oh! Excuse me — the storage shed) and deal with it. I was to figure out what is important for posterity, what I needed (or whether there is anything in this category), pass it on to the kids, sell it or trash it. Whatever! It was going to just get it out of my life or start using it. That goal lasted two weeks.

Actually the goal is still there; the required actions just didn't follow.

It's not that I didn't want to break open the boxes. It's not that I didn't necessarily have the time. And it's not that some good elf did the job for me. It was more the lack of echolocation within my entire life.

There is so much clutter even in my mind that I didn't have enough sanguine space within my gray matter to allow the tranquil resonance to call back to me "don't forget those boxes."

Whether within our lives, homes, sheds, or even our email boxes, we need space. Too much of anything seems to cause us to lose our focus on life. While our home and life's actions are an attempt to maximize life, the scurry of an overfull calendar causes us to overlook the beauty of a single rose or the unexpected interaction with a friend whom we haven't seen in a decade.

How, if I have 10 one-hour appointments (plus the hour transit time for each appointment) can I possibly halt for more than a minute to spontaneously renew a dear friendship? How do I focus on any one photo of a loved one with 100 photos plastered on my wall? How do I finish one project when I am spinning six projects in thin air?

Spontaneity is truly what I relish. Taking the camera out to capture the moment the Scott's oriole pays its annual visit to my garden. Dropping everything and going to lunch with a friend from years past, at the drop of a hat. Just stopping the hectic scurry to take a walk with a loved one. Turning off the chatter of the news station or trill of the music station to allow my own thoughts to twirl through their own resilience.

While my life is maximized to the hilt, I do believe I have become a minimalist. Now, if I can just figure out how to minimize down to a home empty enough to resonate and echo my feelings of love for my family, bask in the beauty of the creations around me, and provide opportunities for spontaneous sharings.

Spontaneous sharings ... isn't this what life is all about?

I think today is the day I will buy a couple of plants, gather those teapots I haven't wanted to part with, and make them all into lovely potted gifts for a few friends. Hence, allowing me to maximize both my space and gratitude for dear friendships. What an idea! Sharing something cherished with a cherished friend.

Now I need to to declutter that table and invite a friend to share a meal.

Cat Trico has been a resident of Boulder City since 2003 and is a past president of the Senior Center of Boulder City and co-founder of the Decker Lake Wetlands Preserve. As an author and editor, she contributed to "Rights, Responsibilities, and Relationships" for youth. She can be reached at cat.circa1623@gmail.com.

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