About six years ago I was called in for jury duty. I ended up with a bunch of prospective jurors in a courtroom with Judge Lance Ito. You probably remember him from the OJ Simpson murder trial.
Judge Ito asked us if there was anyone who had a problem being able to be a juror at that time. I raised my hand. I said that I was working with a new clutter busting client who was suicidal and needed my immediate assistance. My client had been so stuck and overwhelmed in his clutter for years that every night for months, he would put a gun in his mouth, but was unable to pull the trigger. My client reached out for help by calling and hiring me.
Judge Ito was silent. I was intimidated by his presence. I remembered watching him lecture attorneys during the OJ trial. He had been stern and unbending.
Judge Ito told me about a case that he presided over where the accused was reported to have gone into people's homes that were filled to the ceiling with clutter and murdered the people. The Judge was silent again. I didn't know what to say. I stood there feeling awkward.
Then I sensed Judge Ito opening up. I could feel his intensity and protective power slip away. In a soft and quiet voice, the Judge said that he had a problem with clutter. He understood how difficult it was to let go. He wished he could be better at eliminating things.
Judge Ito was silent again.
But rather than feel intimidated, I felt connected to him. When people are vulnerable, when they let down their guard, they come to life in a way that's inviting and supportive. It feels positively powerful.
I said that I understood what he was going through. I encouraged him to take an honest look at what was in his surroundings. He nodded. He let me go.