I sat on the balcony at lunch today and tried to meditate. I tried to be mindful. I tried to be gentle with myself when I found my thoughts straying away from my breath.

I’m learning again just how busy my mind is. I want to use the word “cluttered” to describe it, actually, because I feel that word resonates with the rest of my life as well.

My work inbox and work process in general feels cluttered and sporadic. I’m hoping that mindfulness practice will help it feel less so, although I’m not sure there’s much that can help the actual amount of work that flows onto my desk. Perhaps I’ll at least gain more focus.

My house is definitely cluttered. I am constantly donating items to the Goodwill by our house, in hopes that eventually, we will have nothing unnecessary to our daily lives. But what about those extra headphones that I know I’ll need once the cat chews mine up? What about the spare nails and screws and lightbulbs that we’ll eventually need when something needs to be hung on the wall or a light burns out?

And the laundry. Oh, the damn laundry. My poor husband gets so sick of looking at it, I know he does. I end up throwing it all into the corner of the room on my side of the bed so it’s not so visible on top of the dresser. It is stuffed there in a huge pile; wrinkled, unfolded, probably needing to be rewashed since the cat sleeps in it while we are at work.

I have too many papers that I’m afraid to throw away, too many clothes I think I may wear again once I lose twenty pounds, and too many other random things in my house that I don’t even touch once a year, but can’t seem to let go of. Relative to the number of things I’ve seen other people hold onto, we really aren’t that bad, but if I get rid of everything I want to, then my kids won’t ever get to discover little bits of my past. They won’t be able to read the notes my friends and I passed back and forth in middle school, the papers I wrote tearing apart the chapters of Brontë and the prose of Annie Dillard. I won’t be able to look through it myself and be reminded of the person I was before this cold, mean, beautiful world spat all those unthinkable college experiences on me and before I got a job to pay off student loans and car loans and got caught up in the whole “real world” thing.

Maybe that’s what the mindfulness is for. Maybe if I can practice focusing on the now, instead of hanging on to the then; perhaps if I can remember the impermanence of every single thing, then it won’t be so bad to let go of the things that remind me of the past. Maybe if now becomes the most beautiful and glorious part of my life, then nothing else will matter. Maybe I’ll get rid of some more clutter today.