On his show Enough Already! on OWN, organizing genius Peter Walsh regularly confronts hoarders with bizarre psychological attachments to the junk ransacking their homes. But he's never seen anything like the O staff's stubborn devotion to...well, O. We keep entire libraries of back issues at our desks; we stuff them in every available closet; we stack them in boxes on the floor. Deep down, most of us probably know we'll never be seized by an urgent need to reread that eight-step guide to getting dumped we published in June 2001 (step 6: "If at all possible, get yourself to a small Himalayan Buddhist kingdom"). But we put our collective heart and soul into crafting this magazine. And when it comes to parting ways, we have (as deputy editor Lucy Kaylin says) "emotional baggage."
Walsh calls it something else: "Unhealthy." And so, after trying unsuccessfully to move the mountains of printed matter ourselves, we've summoned him to New York to help us organize our workspace and increase our productivity (okay, fine, we were cited for safety infractions during our last building inspection). He immediately concludes that our excess magazines contribute to a general sense of claustrophobia and helplessness. "Every time I walk in here," he quips, "I feel like I'm drowning."
Of course, he's not talking about just our back-issue issues. Our airy expanse of cubicles is weighed down by papers, stuffed animals, dead orchids, piles of unopened mail, jars of hand cream, yoga DVDs, novels, half-eaten rice cakes, wilted birthday balloons, and framed photos of Oprah and Michael Jackson from the '90s. Yes, we at O, who traffic in insight and enlightenment, who have published a special "De-Clutter Your Life!" issue for the past two years, are in the grips of a mass material psychosis.
"I can help you enormously," Walsh says, his face betraying both pity and weariness. "But there's going to be a bit of pain."