For the past two days, I’ve been busy tossing things out, shredding old receipts, boxing up books I’ll never want to read again, learning to let go. I am a packrat, no question about it. Maybe it comes from having moved so often while my children were growing up, leaving behind all the things that would take up too much space in the moving van.
Or maybe it goes deeper than that. I remember collecting comic books, paper dolls, and trading cards in my childhood. I remember sitting on the daybed in the basement, where my teenaged uncle slept during the hot summer months, looking one by one, with much admiration, at each specimen in his matchbook collection. (One of those matchbooks contained what I now recognize as a condom.) There's just something about groups of similar objects that appeals to me.
Most of my books will still be on their shelves when this bout of de-cluttering is completed. My elephant collection will be intact, as will my more recent collection of tiny replicas of beautiful shoes. I’m not yet ready to give up the old vinyl record albums, either, but I’ve begun to think about it.
As much as I enjoy reflecting on the past -– and a single piece of paper can transport me back thirty years –- I want to live more in the moment. I want to rid myself of some of the clutter that steals my time and diminishes my enjoyment of the here and now.
Part of my "packrat-edness" has been my desire to leave a trail for my children and grandchildren, a path of documents and mementos to show them where they came from and to tell them what happened along the way. And so I’ve stuffed things into drawers and onto shelves, waiting for the right moment to dump all that “stuff” into their laps. My goal for the new year is to break that habit. Coincidentally, the accomplishment of last year's goal will help me do it.
I don't make resolutions, but my "goal" for 2006 was to set up my own blog. I thought it would be a difficult process, and I postponed it for a few weeks into the year. Then, one night in late-January, I sat down to explore what I’d need to do to get started. Before that evening was out, I was up and running. What a thrill!
And here I am nearly a year later, realizing that the stories I want my children to know, the photos I want them to see, don’t have to languish in a drawer or on a dusty shelf. With a few keystrokes, I can send them out into the universe via the Internet, where they can be retrieved with a few more keystrokes if and when somebody’s interested. How about that for a neat space-saving device!
Blogging has brought something else into my life, too. For introverts like me, those of us who thrive on calm, quiet places, it’s painful to put ourselves out into real-world gatherings long enough to scout out others like ourselves. In fact, the others like us are not usually found at large gatherings; they’re home in their own calm, quiet places. Many of them, I’ve learned this year, are at their computers, opening their hearts, baring their souls, making friends the way we like to do it: one at a time, slowly, quietly.
You, dear readers and writers, have made my year! I wish each of you, as well as my delightful and widespread family, a happy, healthy 2007. May your candle burn even brighter in the new year.