Over the last weekend, my wife and I decided to clean all the closets and drawers. Pretty soon, we extended the sphere to cover every nook and corner of our house. The idea was to go through each section of our home, find all the junk lying around unused, and get rid of it if it does not justify the space it occupies. In a way, I was working under the guidance of my wife - the most organized person in my eye. She is very particular about organizing stuff, and here is the process we had followed.
We selected a closet, took down all the contents, and then worked on them. We segregated them on multiple parameters – when was this last used, is that usage still applicable, is this here just for emotional value and so on. Then, we tagged and ordered them. Finally, we grouped them into containers whose sizes varied from small boxes to huge travel sacks.
As the sun was on its descent in the sky, we worked on an under-bed drawer. It was a massive unit - enough for a person to sleep comfortably, albeit breathlessly - but it had no compartments. So, naturally, the stuff was just spewed all around, making the whole drawer appear super untidy. Not that any of the items in there were soiled. Many were even untouched, unused. What the drawer was lacking was an arrangement of some kind. So, we got down to work. We grouped and stored the stuff into the large storage bag-cum-organizers that we had recently ordered just for this purpose. The difference that simple activity caused was immense. The drawer still contained the same things, but it didn't resemble the mess earlier.
As the night dawned, we breathed a satisfying sigh, proud of what we had achieved. The cabinets looked clean, and we made space in the whole home. I felt even the home must have breathed a huge sigh of relief - after all, we had relieved it of some burden.
The slight effort that we had put in to evaluate, dump, segregate and reorganize stuff in our home had made our abode look cleaner, spacious.
And you know what I realized? I do apply the same process we used to organize our home to my mind too. A slight effort I put in occasionally to evaluate, dump, segregate and reorganize my thoughts leads to a calmer and receptive mind. I dump the thoughts onto the pages of my diary, not trying to organize them in the process. I meditate as I evaluate the thoughts hovering around. Sure, sorting and reorganizing thoughts is not as easy as moving stuff to the storage bags. But to me, a form of bullet journaling helps organize the ideas.
This process of journaling and meditation is an act of housecleaning for my mind. It declutters it, makes it a lot less messy when I look inwards. At the same time, it frees it up to welcome more ideas. Just as it did recently to our home.
Anyway, here is the selection of three brilliant essays on life for this week.
Because it’s so easy to judge the idiocy of others, it may be sorely tempting to think this doesn’t apply to you. But the problem of unrecognized ignorance is one that visits us all. And over the years, I’ve become convinced of one key, overarching fact about the ignorant mind. One should not think of it as uninformed. Rather, one should think of it as misinformed.
An ignorant mind is precisely not a spotless, empty vessel, but one that’s filled with the clutter of irrelevant or misleading life experiences, theories, facts, intuitions, strategies, algorithms, heuristics, metaphors, and hunches that regrettably have the look and feel of useful and accurate knowledge.
It helps to look at which shelves are bare. That teaches you, I suppose, what you should be hoarding. Most of the people I see in lines these days aren’t real cooks. I noticed at my neighborhood stores that all the canned spaghetti sauces were gone, the horrible ones that taste like ketchup, as well as the frozen pizzas and burritos—stuff we never eat. Toilet paper is gone, too, of course, as are paper towels.
To be fair, mongrel vocabularies are hardly uncommon worldwide, but English’s hybridity is high on the scale compared with most European languages. The previous sentence, for example, is a riot of words from Old English, Old Norse, French and Latin. Greek is another element: in an alternate universe, we would call photographs ‘lightwriting’. According to a fashion that reached its zenith in the 19th century, scientific things had to be given Greek names. Hence our undecipherable words for chemicals: why can’t we call monosodium glutamate ‘one-salt gluten acid’? It’s too late to ask. But this muttly vocabulary is one of the things that puts such a distance between English and its nearest linguistic neighbours.
I have recently started writing more long-form essays by choice, which I publish along with the issues of this newsletter. You can receive even these essays via email if you are interested. Just let me know. Or you could, of course, subscribe to the good old RSS feed.
I have published the below essays since I delivered the last issue of the newsletter.
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