It’s all too much, by Peter Walsh
by Giles Turnbull
It doesn’t escape my sense of irony that in order to read Walsh’s advice about ridding your life of more material goods, I first had to obtain a copy of his book. The fact that it was a gift from a loved one, rather than a purchase from a book shop, only makes it fractionally less ironic.
And on reading it, I’m not terribly sure that Walsh deserves all the gushing praise I saw for the book, and that inspired me to read it in the first place. It’s 228 pages of common sense and the blindingly obvious, although it’s clear that many people in this world still benefit from hefty slaps in the face of both.
Walsh’s most useful nugget of advice is to write down what a room’s function should be; after that, your task as a declutterer is to remove all objects in the room that do not contribute to that function. The bedroom, for example, is for sleep and dressing; other items, like tools, books, loft ladders, knitting supplies, toys, and ornaments should not be kept there.
The book starts off with good intentions but gets repetitive quickly. It could be slimmed down a great deal, but of course that wouldn’t have made for a decent book to clutter up your shelves with. (It would, however, have made a nice e-book which you could read on screen quite comfortably and store without adding to physical clutter, an approach that Walsh recommends for music storage.)
Walsh does make some good points about consumerism and the apparent endless desire for more stuff; also, his book is written for Americans and concentrates on that peculiar, American form of consumerism. (I’m not saying it doesn’t exist in the UK; it does, but to a lesser degree.) But you’d have to be a dullard of some achievement not to have stopped at some previous point in your life and asked yourself: “Do I really need to buy all these extra things?”
Because that’s what Walsh’s slap of common sense boils down to. Do you really need half the shit you store in your home; and having had the courage to ditch it, can you change your spending habits so that you don’t accumulate any more of the same shit in coming years?
Maybe I’m a know-it-all, maybe I’ve been thinking about consumerism and waste too much in recent years, but I knew pretty much everything Walsh was going to say before he said it.
I shall take his advice in some respects, though, and ruthlessly get rid of that which I no longer need. So if anyone wants my copy of It’s all too much by Peter Walsh, just let me know and I’ll post it to you.