Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Uncluttering A Brand New Year

2012 is now four days old. I woke up on New Year’s Day I with the old saying in my mind, “Whatever you do on the New Year is what you will be doing all year long.” I was tempted to sit in a comfortable chair snacking on chocolate while watching old movies on television, but my better judgment kept me from doing this. My superstitious nature kept me from emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming the house, or folding clothes, although I know I’ll be doing these chores all year long anyway. However, I did spend part of the day reflecting on my life, and taking a mental inventory of where I am at this point in my trek through life.

Included in this exercise was spending some time uncluttering my life in the form of going through an old chest of drawers that serves as a collection point for useless and non-essential items. I thought this would be a beneficial thing to do on New Year’s Day, as it might help me throughout 2012 from squirreling stuff I don’t need and may never use. It was an interesting undertaking. I found items that I had forgotten about over the past few years, as well as some things that totally surprised me, trying to remember where they came from and why they ended up in said drawer.

One item of interest was an old composition book, the black-and-white covered kind we had as kids for taking spelling tests and writing school assignments. This particular one was titled “Private Papers”, in a third grade printing that I recognized as my own. When I opened it, I found a collection of poems I had written as an eight year old. Obviously, I concentrated on rhyming more than content, but a couple of the poems made me smile. In a separate blog, I plan to publish a few of these gems.

Another object was a brass container with a lid so tight that Phil had to pry it open for me. Inside was a collection of my father’s odds and ends, mostly Masonic Lodge and Rotary memorabilia. One thing that interested me was a commemorative coin of some sort that had the words “Knights Templar” engraved on it. From reading Dan Brown‘s books and watching movies like “The Da Vinci Code,” my imagination ran wild for a short time, imagining my father in secretive gatherings and wondering about his involvement in this mysterious society. After examining each item and thinking about my dad, Phil and I returned each to the container and sealed it back with the tight-fitting lid. Back into the drawer it went. I’m sure I’ll pull it out again in a few years and go through the process again.

A few other things I found were my mother’s high school diploma, Phil’s grandfather’s funeral prayer book, written in both English and Hebrew, a collection of picture postcards from my childhood, and my high school senior portrait. While I returned most of these treasures to the drawers, I managed to fill up a garbage bag with things that were not worth saving. Included were a compass that didn’t know which direction North was, a dried up yellow highlighter, a bundle of yarn that was beyond detangling, several strands of knotted up Mardi Gras beads, and dozens of freebies from trade shows I’d attended during the past several years.

It was odd how this activity of going through these jam-packed drawers and my introspection of my life intertwined New Year’s afternoon. Memories piled on top of memories, mysteries deepened, questions about why on earth I stashed a certain article into a drawer for safekeeping, and why I ever felt compelled to save something that clearly was worthless to begin with. In so many ways, the drawers mirrored my life, full of valued treasures, mementoes of special moments in both my life and my parents’ lives, remnants of past hobbies and interests, photos, clippings, and other paraphernalia from my life’s events.

As I returned the last drawer to the chest of drawers, now neatly organized and visibly less stuffed, I felt as if I had also uncluttered my life. With a renewed resolve to pay attention the important things in my life, discard the useless, and dust off the meaningless, I was ready to move forward into the future with a lighter burden.

It’s a brand new year. I cleaned out some drawers on New Year’s Day. If that’s what I’ll be doing all year long, it’s o.k. with me. I think keeping my life uncluttered is worth it. And I guess I’ll still do my share of the household chores I avoided all day long.