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.