Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clearing out the clutter

Clearing out old books and old ideas. Time is change, so it's time to change and throw out the unused stuff that clutters the shelf and the mind.

A good friend back in Seattle posted this update on his Facebook page this week, prompting a back and forth about whether this was a good thing or not.  He maintains that “what I haven't used in a while needs to go: my differential equations book, gone!”.  I ‘eep and wonder what’s lost and what’s left.

I know the source of my sensitivity.

Years ago, I was given a membership in the Island Sailing Club for my birthday.  It was perfect: I didn’t want to buy or maintain a boat, but the idea of going down to the docks and taking a day’s sail on a whim was very appealing.  I took lessons and learned my knots and lines, gained ASA certifications, and spent many happy days on the water with the family as the kids were growing up.

William1 Laura1 Laura2

Around the time that the kids hit 6th grade, they started to get other interests, and travel started to hit me harder at work.  Eventually, I found that I was only using the membership a couple of times a month, rather than three times a week.

And so, it came time to remove the clutter.

I remember this being a real watershed: it meant admitting to myself that I wasn’t going to be going sailing on a whim any more.  Sure, I could still charter, but dropping the membership meant giving in to a changed life that no longer had time for wind and water, locking in the transition away from being out at sunset a couple of times a week.

I still have that reaction to ‘removing the clutter’. It means that I am locking in choices about what I won’t do any more: it means giving something up. 

I need room for new stuff in there!  If old stuff is in the way, it blocks new things from coming into your life.

Yes, clearing out leaves the world a simpler, more beautiful place.

But it feels like a bit of the past and some of the future goes too...

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