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Last week, instead of heading home on the highway, my husband, Bob, and I took an extra 10 minutes and drove along Route 6A. We passed gorgeous cranberry bogs, stately stone walls and yards filled with roses. All through the drive, I cried.
Sweet Bob wanted to hear my thoughts. "I'm worried about your doctor's appointment," I said. "I'm so sorry I spoiled our drive."
"But I want you to talk to me."
"Bob, the only purpose my thoughts served was to lose every precious moment of a beautiful summer drive with you."
At that instant, I learned that one word could change life for the better. The word? Clutter. In a single day I said to myself, "clutter," each time I noticed a pointless negative thought. I stopped counting after about a hundred.
Recently Bob called from his cell. "I'm at the store. I'll be home in 20 minutes."
I thought, "What if he has an accident?"
By identifying the useless thought, I could stop it.
This de-cluttering business goes way beyond the "what if?" container. The life of my cat, Eddie, was wonderful. But the second I think of him, I visualize his ending.
So I asked Bob, "What do you think of when you think of Eddie?"
He laughed. "I think about Eddie-proofing the house, like keeping the toilet paper in a coffee tin." Then he laughed harder and said, "I think about when he'd jump in my shower and every time I'd pull him out and then close the bathroom door behind him, he'd decide it was a challenge. He'd turn the door knob, race back to the shower and use his paw to quickly slide the shower door open and jump right back in!"
Last week we went to the movies. We couldn't bring our dog, Becky, in the car because of the heat. I said, "Bob, I can't stop thinking about how unhappy Becky is right now."
The truth is, I can stop thinking about … anything. We all can. Do you see any purpose in me taking time away from enjoying the movies by focusing on leaving my pooch at home?
Today, Bob and I stopped at a farm stand and bought corn. Now, I could have done what I did last time, which was to complain about the weather (clutter) and stay in the car while Bob bought the corn. Instead I spent a wondrous 5 minutes with my husband picking out fresh corn and counting all the colors of the geraniums.
That beat sitting in a car thinking about the 7 calls I had to return. It was a simple uncluttered moment in time, when all I had was the feel of the corn silk, the aroma of the sweet basil, and the sight of a hummingbird on a petunia.
And all that I had …was plenty.
Saralee Perel is an award-winning nationally syndicated columnist. Her new book, Cracked Nuts & Sentimental Journeys: Stories From a Life Out of Balance, is available in local bookstores.
It can also be ordered through Amazon, or directly from the publisher, as well as from Saralee for a personalized signed copy.
Her novel, Raw Nerves, is also available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon.
Saralee with Bob