Full House, Empty House

I like my house. I like it best when it is filled with people. Last night was one of those filled with people times.

We had a party for 50 or so fellow parishoners last night. The house was alive with loud converations, squeals of laughter, boisterous shouts, people talking with their mouths full. Our house has not been so full in quite some time. We had to use chairs and tables from our church to accommodate them at a sit down dinner. At least we didn’t have to cook for them all — we just provided the space. And we are indeed blessed with space.

To make room for the friends, we had to move a lot of the smaller furniture out to the garage. Lots of toys and nicknacks got stowed away. Clutter got stowed away. A bunch of stuff I’d just rather see not come back out got stowed away. I liked our house in the pre- and post- party state. Clean, with lots of open spaces where Stuff would usually go. It was nice to look at the expanses of open floor and imagine that we lived lives that didn’t cover that floor with toys and clothes and newspapers and clutter.

I realized in that moment how large a percentage of my time is spent in a sysiphian battle against clutter. Making room for the People by moving around the Stuff. It was nice to sit and enjoy my momentary, perfectly illusory, victory over the Stuff in my house.

But, I know, People come with Stuff. Accommodating People means dealing with Stuff.

So I know that I do not really want the kind of life that leaves our floors uncluttered. I know I do not want an empty house because empty house means it’s empty of people. Stuff comes along with people like flotsam on the tide. I certainly can appreciate the low tides when the house is clean and quiet. But without the high tides, without the kids and the dogs and the old folks and their toys and newspapers and shoes and mail and book bags, without the clutter and chaos, without the Stuff, the place is just kind of stagnant.

The next wave comes this weekend, with a house full of family. Then another bunch three days after that. A lot of People. A lot of Stuff to move around. Like the tide.

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