Avarice, or, The Empty House

Genevieve Wolf
3 min readNov 27, 2023

I remember the day…

we found it!

A German Catholic’s absolute dream…

An estate sale!

…ba dum ba dum ba dum ba dum ba dum drumrollllllllllllllllllllll…

It was only a few blocks away, almost as large as our place, and the family was clearly hoping to get rid of everything. It was the walk-through type, where you’re able to choose pretty much anything in the rooms or off the walls.

What I remember so vividly is that although it was a fairly large home (three or four bedrooms), it was massively packed, so tightly packed that walking through felt suffocating. There was just stuff, stuff, stuff — on tables, counters, cupboards, beds, everywhere.

But the thing was, it wasn’t even nice stuff. It wasn’t the kind of place where you would pull out a Gucci bag and be like, yeehaw! Look at this! There wasn’t anything I particularly wanted. It wasn’t expensive, it wasn’t nice, it wasn’t grand.

Not to get morbid or anything, but I found myself wondering about how they had lived. Even though there were closets full of old-people clothes, I wondered if they ever even used all of them. Had they needed those endless hobby things? Had they spent more time at home, or more time going out? And why on earth had they just accumulated so much?

I wondered if they had saved a bit more and spent a bit less, would they have been able to travel more, and have more life adventures or something.

What haunted me about that house was wondering if anyone in that house ever attained a state of flow.

You know: flow.

You don’t know flow?

Oh come onnnnnn, you know flow.

Flow is that feeling you get when you’re completely immersed in a project, creating a work of art, reading a story, using that book on prayer you need, or, if you’re me, dancing to Lindsey Stirling’s music.

The correlation between clutter and flow is — when surrounded by too many things, people lose the ability to appreciate people, experiences, and God’s presence. You see this sometimes with toddlers — when they have too many toys, they bounce around and never settle down to play with any one single item.

As a side note — because Heaven is by definition eternal ecstatic contemplation of God face-to-face, I imagine it is an overwhelming experience of flow… a Flow 2.0, if you will.

I wondered how they had lived, and how they had died, and what they would be remembered for.

I wondered if anyone cared.

I wondered if anyone would pray for their souls.

(Catholics are very big on praying for others, in case you haven’t guessed by now — “especially those souls in most need of [God’s] mercy” as the popular prayer goes — because we want all peoples to reach heaven).

Which brings me to fall cleaning.

You know that saying, “There’s an app for that”? Yeaaaaahhhhh…there’s a book for that!

(This is the part where I begin to question whether I have too much of a fixation on cleaning and organization, and then I realize no, no, one can never have too much tidiness in one’s life).

I sometimes joke to the mater that she clutters the house with too many decluttering books. I mean, obviously there are the decluttering greats like Don Aslett. And if you don’t know of Don Aslett, um, do you even housewife?

As good ol’ D.A. expertly points out, most ‘Mericans waste the majority of their lives polishing, dusting, worrying, accumulating, purchasing, using, upgrading, updating, worrying, and cleaning their shiz. And then just about every five years or so, they pack it all up and move it all to a new location where they unpack, dust, polish, worry, and accumulate yet more.

But if you don’t want to purchase the series, here’s the single best (and cheapest) decluttering book I’ve ever read.

As Jordan Peterson always says: Just start by cleaning your room.

Here’s a good cleaning jam if you want one.

Kudos to TobyMac for the rad wolf imagery.

Happy Thanksgiving, ya’ll.

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Genevieve Wolf

Just out here writing about daily life, humor, God, and Catholicism.