Clearing clutter has got to be the number one tool used by God’s watchdog of the pearly gates (St. Peter) to distinguish the advanced souls on earth–the Dalai Lamas with absolutely no attachment to material objects–from their infant brother and sister spirits, who clutch petals from their wedding bouquets and movie tickets from a first date 30 years ago in hopes of hanging on to the good memories of the past.
As for me, I’m locked both in Christmas past–with boxes of journals and college notebooks I can’t throw out–and Christmas future–with crates of research for books I intend to write in 2010 or 2012, when I’ll have more time.
“It’s simple,” Eric instructed me the other day as I attempted this torturous exercise. “If you haven’t used it or pulled it out in five years, chuck it.”
He walked over to a box in the garage labeled “mystic friendships.”
“What on earth is in here?” he asked.
“Research for a book I am going to write about the friendships between some of the great Christian mystics.”
“Right. Have you opened the box in five years?”
“Then chuck it.”
“Because one of these days, I will write that book.”
“Okay. Then buy the resources you need at that time.” (Note to readers: If any of you would like to write the book, I’d be happy to ship my photocopies and books to you.)
My handicap in the garage points to a much larger issue, of course–one that feeds my depression. I’m terrified to let go. Of everything in the past. And of all the potential in the future. I’m a flaming “P” (Perceiver) on the Myers-Briggs personality test, which means I see possibility in every sheet of paper and notebook and journal and movie stub and wedding napkin. It’s all so meaningful! Until I can’t find what’s truly important–like the last letter my dad wrote me before he died–because I’m drowning in stuff, like the memorabilia from his 50th birthday party (including a photo of me dancing with Rob Lowe, whose father was a friend of my dad’s).
Perhaps if I got better at living in the present, then the tokens of the past and future wouldn’t matter so much.