There is a lot written about “clearing clutter” these days. There are over 421,000 sites that come up with you Google that term. I am an advocate of clearing clutter (Â . . . I can feel my husband smirking before he’s even read what I have to say . . .). I believe you have to get rid of old stuff before new stuff can come into your life. I told Mark that I seriously was going to do some clutter clearing this week.
But, man, it is harder than it looks. I know the rule in the closet is “if you haven’t worn it in the past year, blah blah,” but what about this winter that I spent unemployed? I didn’t NEED to wear my prettiest heavy sweater from Norway. I didn’t have a place to wear it to. And I’m sure these 10 pounds of layoff weight will go away eventually and allow me to wear again the long sleeved t-shirts and the “uniform” that I’ve worn for the last five years. And, besides, everything really does hinge on the next job. I may need two dozen t-shirts with band names on them.
Tonight I had to go in search of a bit of tax information that is buried in OLD financial stuff. Where IS that financial stuff? I haven’t quite figured out where it is. I know where it was in our house in Carrollton, but since we moved 9 years ago and THAT file cabinet now is full of drum hardware, I am not sure where those papers went. Meanwhile, I pull down other boxes of papers in my closet. This would be a good opportunity to clear clutter. Oh, but then I got caught up in reading what was in there. Newspapers with articles from when I was a reporter for the Canyon News. The big article I wrote when Willie played the Buffalo Bowl for 25,000 people. It was my first experience at a concert of that size (and they really weren’t all that common at the time — at least not in the Panhandle). It is something to read about it from my own first-hand experience. There’s a report I wrote for physiology and anatomy class in high school about the respiratory system. I really could throw it away, but it fascinates me to see a TYPED report and to recall how difficult it was in those days to put a paper together. No spell check, no easy formatting. I made a whole chart that would probably be a breeze to do today in Word with “tables” and “fit to page,” but it was quite an achievement in 1976 and I am not ready to let it go.
In the 80s I worked for the Zig Ziglar Corporation. There were some stultifying, boring days working there in sales. Cindi worked in the cubicle behind me and, since this was in the days before emailing, instant messaging, texting, or any other technical forms of communication, we wrote notes and wadded them up and threw them over into the next cube all day long. I found some of her notes among my things. And a gazillion birthday and greeting cards from co-workers there, all with the PIG theme that I loved so much back then. I did toss a 1987 calendar of pigs that I couldn’t quite see holding on another 20 years and a pig poster that did nothing for me then and does nothing for me now. But all the other cards and notes will have to wait until I can “really sort through them” (my forever excuse).
Then I found a big box of letters. I have one box of letters that is very carefully preserved. I didn’t disturb the packets of letters in it. I know it contains letters from all of my grandparents and Mark’s grandparents and many other dear loved ones that have passed on. But the other big box of letters is really just a BIG box of family stuff from the 80s and 90s. But how does anyone throw away their nephews’ colorings? And their Thanksgiving turkey hand outlines? And funny pictures that they actually drew of Mark’s rock band when they were 7 or 8? And the letters that are in that box, too. A lot more letters from my Dad than I remember him writing. I knew he wrote a nice thank you after every Christmas and birthday, but there are more. I will have to save them all and re-read them sometime when I have a good light and my reading glasses and time to decipher Daddy’s impossible handwriting. And there are dozens and dozens of letters from my mother, written when they lived on the farm (near Amarillo) and I lived in Dallas. This was before email became our primary method of communication. Back in those days it wasn’t unusual to get a couple of letters from Mother a week, telling about a neighbor that had been robbed, or her trip to town for groceries, or what she’d heard from others in the family. And, since she commented about what was going on in my life it is as much a diary for me as it is for her (I saw one where my wedding was upcoming and she didn’t want Mark’s mother to have to wait for Mom to choose her dress color if she — Mark’s mother– wanted to go out and get a dress sooner).
So, instead of clearing, I have only cleared a shelf in the closet and it is only clear because the boxes are here on the floor now. I expect a few days will go by and then I will close them up again and put them back on the shelf. It’s one thing to clear out the old newspapers in the living room and to clear old bottles from under the sink, but when it comes to clearing my LIFE, I’m going to take it a little more slowly.