Confucius said ‘Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated’.
Church House has been closed for the whole of August and we have taken the opportunity to redecorate and lay new carpets in some of the rooms. We have also bought some new furniture and the end result is that the building as a whole looks brighter and more welcoming.
As in all non purpose-built venues, storage space is at a premium. In order to make room for the new furniture and in readiness for our busy autumn months, we have been clearing out. What started out as just clearing the main stores became a veritable epidemic of clearing and cleaning every area of the conference centre; the kitchen, cleaning cupboards, filing cabinets and desks. Skip-loads of junk have been taken away and there is still more to go. Only when you take the time do you uncover forgotten stuff you have been keeping for years in the vain hope that it will come in useful someday. And when you pull it out of the corner where it has been languishing, put there by someone who has long since left the organisation, you soon discover why it was put there in the first place; the seat is loose or the drawers don’t work.
While the process of clearing out is satisfying of itself and seeing the end result of clean, ordered and accessible storage areas is pleasing, there can be a twinge of guilt that so much is being thrown away. Mindful of the fact that what is one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, we offered the items we no longer needed free to anyone who wanted to give them a new home. Chairs, curtains, exhibition stands were all snapped up and are all enjoying a new lease of life. Recycling can be very gratifying.
Just as everyone at work seemed to catch the de-cluttering bug, I couldn’t help wondering if they, like me felt the urge to do some clearing out at home too. I realised that it is all too easy to surround oneself with stuff and spend valuable time maintaining this stuff. Is it true that it’s what we hold onto that holds us back? Of course, clutter doesn’t just mean physical objects but also all the mental and emotional baggage we hang onto. We are constantly being exhorted to clear out and travel light so we have room for new experiences and adventures. According to the principles of Feng Shui, ‘clutter is anything unfinished, unused, unresolved or disorganised. When you clear your clutter, you create space for new things and your energy and creativity will increase’.
And so, as I stand and admire our clean and functional storage spaces housing only furniture and equipment which is in full working order and looking presentable, I hope that this same sense of order will be mirrored around the building. Our quest must surely be for the highest possible quality and simplicity in everything we do, for as Leonardo da Vinci said ‘simplicity is the ultimate sophistication’.