I wrote a post on this blog earlier this year about my intention to focus on balance for the year. I followed that up with a post on my blog outlining the activities I decided were necessary to stay in balance. The number one item—and the one highlighted in the pie chart I included in the second blog (also shown below)—is clearing, which I define as getting rid of anything that no longer serves, be that an attitude or any of the numerous objects I’ve collected over the years that I don’t need or want any more.
I’ve been doing a lot of clearing lately. Three weeks ago, I donated two boxes and six shopping bags of books to the Friends of the Library. Last week, I (finally) took my old desktop computer, which I haven’t used since probably 2009, and my old huge box of a television, which I replaced with a sleek flat screen last year, to the household hazardous waste recycle center. I thought about donating them, but really, who would want them?
In addition to getting rid of hopelessly out of date electronics, I also purged my files. This included all the supporting materials and notes from my dissertation writing days. I got my degree in 1998. Have I looked at most of those files since? Only the outsides of the folders when I moved them from one household to the next—and, for the record, some of those files moved at least five times. Why did I hold on to them so long? Well, I put a lot of time and effort into collecting them in the first place. That dissertation was the center of my life for years.
The operative word in that last sentence, though, is “was.”
My stomach still clenched a bit as I tossed those files into a box for recycling, but I finally had to admit that those files represented my past—and not my present or my future. It was time to let them go, to free myself of the weight of them. I still have the bound copies of the finished dissertation. But I don’t need all my notes.
In tossing those files, I think I’ve finally released myself from the hold of a life I once had—and that of a phantom life I could have had if I had chosen to pursue an academic career—so that I can fully embrace the life I have chosen.
Sometimes it takes a while to let go of the past. We can only do it when we’re ready.
What have you been holding on to for years and years?
Connect with me:
I am the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy series, The Light-Bringer:
I have also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes: