Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our Closets, Our Selves

Back in the '70s, awareness of our own bodies seemed to be the prerequisite for self-knowledge. (Anyone else remember reading Our Bodies Our Selves and trying to find her cervix using a hand mirror?) At other times, the key-du-jour was spirituality, or feng shui, or knowing what color your parachute was. But I think the real secret is examining our closets.

I share a decent-sized one with my husband, and it's not a total mess, but it does say something about the chaos of my life. There are a few choice outfits, tons of clothes that sort-of-fit-but-aren't-that-flattering, a few slightly stained or pilled items, and those random piles that don't belong anywhere (the sweater I meant to fix, the jeans that need hemming, the workout clothes that don't have a drawer because I use them so rarely). And this economy has spawned a number of helpful articles with titles like "Go Shopping In Your Closet!", which makes me think, geez, who'd want to shop in this dump?, so I know I need to do some major overhauling. Time for a closet purge again, and even though starting isn't fun, it does make me feel lighter and cleaner (but don't worry, I won't extend the purge metaphor any further).

And it got me thinking about closets as a representation of our personalities. I imagine my analytical engineer neighbor having a perfectly neat closet with all the shirts facing the same direction, and my fashionista girlfriend might have a cool sections grouped by style and an artistic display of accessories. Mine is slightly scattered and chaotic, lots of excess bogging it down, but very colorful (what can I say, I like fuschia!), so I want to keep the cheerful creativity and get a bit more orderly, just like in my life. (My husband once took a seminar that was an offshoot of EST or Lifespring or one of those all-day-no-bathroom-break-marathons, and the one piece of advice he still remembers was that when you're feeling like your life is out of control, start by cleaning out your car. The teacher was a man - I'll bet a woman would've recommended cleaning a closet!)

Closets are already a useful metaphor, being a place to store skeletons, or out of which to come, or into which to stuff shameful secrets, so it makes sense that they could tell us a great deal about ourselves. I'm going to clean out my closet so that it says 'Unique and creative but uncluttered and on top of things', and I can achieve useful self knowledge without ever having to look at my cervix again.


Christine said...

Found your blog through an OBOS google alert ... when you're done with your closet, will you come do mine? :)

Jennifer said...

i cannot even step into my closet! it is so tiny with so much...stuff? all i know is that my cat sleeps in there on top of the heap of clothes. why disturb her?