Thursday, February 19, 2009

Death as a Metaphor for a Cluttered Life

Anti-Clutter Expert Peter Walsh is interviewed in the March O magazine (p 50). To point out the dramatic effect clutter and mess can have on us all, he draws our attention to the language used by his clients:

"My clients say things like 'I was buried under all that stuff,' 'I was drowning,' "I feel like I'm suffocating.' We use those metaphors because clutter robs us of life. It robs us socially, when we're too embarrassed to have people over. It robs us spiritually, because we can't be at peace in a cluttered home. And it robs us psychologically, by stealing our ability to feel motivated in our space." 

Considering how difficult it can be for us to talk about death in actuality, I think it's interesting how easy it is for us to rely upon it as a metaphor. 


Gail Rae said...

Although I'd never thought about this, I agree, very interesting that death is such an easy metaphor but such a discussion subject.
I guess it figures, though. When we're alive, no matter how much experience we have with the deaths of others, we only know death as onlookers (NDEs excepted, which, of course, I'm not sure can be considered true death experiences, even though I had one). Maybe, because death is the one personal experience we cannot discuss after the fact while in the only existence of which we're aware (death, after all, ends this existence), it is easier to handle the unyielding mystery of death as metaphor than handling the fact of having to helplessly and ignorantly watch death happen to others as we continue living.
Funny, too, I had a hard time writing this comment...because, well, how the hell do I talk about death except as something I haven't yet experienced? And, what about all those people who are convinced that their NDEs were actual death experiences? What about certain contemplative monks who claim they have entered the state to which we refer as death while continuing their life?
Interesting, know that piece of advice that counsels one should never discuss religion or politics in polite company? We don't include death in that list but, you know, we don't have to. Everyone knows better than to bring up death over cocktails!

Christian Sinclair, MD said...

As a hospice doc, it does strike me odd when people use euphamisms about death so easily, but then I see people stumble or avoid the 'd' word when it really refers to the death of a person.

Amy Clarkson posted on death euphamissm on Pallimed Arts in December. Relevant to this discussion.

Jessica Knapp said...

Thanks for yet another great link, Christian. I clearly haven't been spending enough time on Pallimed Arts.

Gail, a good point that most of us just unconsciously know better than to bring up death in polite company. It reminds me, you should see some of the looks I get when I tell people the topic I'm interested in studying. They either think it's absolutely fascinating, or they look at me like I'm dark and demented.