Papers in a file drawer. A shirt in the back of the closet that’s never been worn. Old spices, far past their expiration date. Defrosted pumpkin in the refrigerator a few days too long.
Books on a shelf. Old letters. Journals filled with scribblings from oh-so-very-important moments so long forgotten and you never look inside.
Everywhere is stuff. Stuff we keep, hold on to for a later day, just in case.
On my desk is a green journal I toted to Bali and back again and then Up North this past weekend, where I found that there were only a few empty pages left to write on. What lies inside is forgotten to me, as if someone else wrote it – and someone else did: the person I was on the other side of the world nearly a year ago.
That person resides in my head along with every person I’ve ever been and the memories I choose to pluck out of the fog at times when they serve me. The rest falls away.
As a writer, this is a dangerous blog to write because where would we be if we cast away all the writings from years long ago? The classic novels, biographies of inspiring individuals from hundreds of years ago – throw it all away? Nonsense.
But there is something in being right here right now. This moment. This experience. Even if it is the same experience I’ve had day after day (wake up, take a shower, dry my hair, eat breakfast), it’s always different. It’s *this* time, *this* way.
So what do we do with favorite memories? Tuck them like a curl behind the ear only to pop out when it serves the moment?
Experiences we long to record – I ordered $60-some worth of photograph prints from Snapfish this week, so the kids and I can stuff them in our scrapbooks and finger through the pages to say, “Oh, this is what we did in Colorado” or “remember when you hugged the tree on the first day of school?”
Except we hardly ever look through the albums. We’re too busy living this moment.
Which brings me back to the original question: why keep anything at all? Doesn’t it just bog us down, create clutter that we can’t quite get clear of?
And imagine what real clutter does to create emotional clutter, too. Too much mess equals a clogged mind and heart.
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m pretty sure we can pull out that old shirt in the back of the closet and donate it to someone who will give it new life.