“Seek not to be cumbered…” (D&C 66:10)
This simple, but powerful line is very helpful for a bunch of different situations relating to dealing with our goods, both to de-clutter and to remain de-cluttered.
To be “cumbered” means to be restricted, restrained, bounded, limited, or curbed, so when we are cumbered by our stuff, we are restricted by the large amounts we have.
How can seeking not to be cumbered help us?
It can help us at the store when we find things we like and want to buy. If our goal is to keep from being cumbered, then we have a license to be incredibly picky about what we buy and bring home. It means that we can think before we plunk down our money. While we often think about how things will help us, we can also think realistically about the demands those things will put on us. It will eventually get dirty. How will we clean it? Where will we keep it? Is there room for it? Will it fill all the needs it can possibly fill? There have been many times that I have looked at a product, liked it, but have refrained from buying it because I had no idea how to care for it and didn’t want the stress (or guilt) of living with the duty of cleaning and caring for it. If we follow that single instruction – seek not to be cumbered – it can help us avoid impulsive buying, which causes clutter. It takes practice at first and a lot of conscious thought, but if we work at it, it can become second nature.
I was trying to think of an example to share and I realized that so much of my thinking about this has become automatic now that examples I came up with were from when I was first practicing the technique. I remember contemplating a sheepskin rug at IKEA because I liked the fuzzy factor, but I couldn't figure out how I would clean it once it got dirty. Vacuum? Washing machine? Beat it with a tennis racket? If I put it somewhere out of the way, it would stay clean, but then I would hardly enjoy it as much as I liked. If I used it often, it would get dirty faster. Finally I just decided to forget the idea.
"Seek not to be cumbered" can also help us when we are trying to get rid of clutter; it can change our focus from finding excuses to keep things to finding excuses to let go of things.
You know what things are burdening you and holding you back, so let them go. Let go of the broken things you haven’t had time to fix and don’t know how. Let go of the mismatches, the outgrown clothes, the unread magazines and newspapers, the books you haven’t looked at, the movies you haven’t watched, the craft supplies you haven’t touched.