I’m a great believer in making room for new things. Periodically, I go through the house and purge anything that’s outlived its usefulness. That includes anything that wasn’t useful to begin with or anything which has usefulness that’s contingent upon my having a clue of what that item is. Spring-cleaning is a great multipurpose tool and over time I’ve found that it has a surprising number of uses beyond the home.
I was never one for having a lot of things. I moved around so much I couldn’t be weighed down. Listen, I’m not talking about what an adventure around-the-world kind of moving, after all I’ve lived in the same twenty-mile radius most of my life, more like changed-residences kind of moving. Actually, I’m pretty sure that I even lived on all four corners of the same intersection at one time or another. Anyway, when it came time to move, I never had any problem giving things away that I could no longer use. I did doggedly hold on to too many of one kind of thing though. No, it wasn’t shoes or clothes. I was never a clothes-horse. As a matter of fact, I think I wore the same pair of overalls all the way through high school. Yes, you’re right not exactly date-bait. No, what I held on to as if they were a part of my anatomy was my book collection. It got so bad that I even had to keep a separate storage unit because the weight of the books kept stripping the tires on whatever poor soul’s van I’d borrowed for the move. Let me tell you, that’s a quick way to lose friends. I did indeed have a Farenheit 451 exile’s mindset. Protect the books no matter what. Eventually, I bought a home and I finally had a place where I could bring all my books. Oddly, it was the very fact that I had this new place and the choice of what my home would be like that made me finally go through my collection and keep only those that served me now. I donated the others to charity trusting that I had already taken in what those books so generously had to offer. Just let it be known though, if they ever do outlaw and start burning books, when I go into exile my new persona will be The Collected Works of Edgar Allen Poe.
My head is one place where one might think of me as a hoarder that is if my memory weren’t such a sieve having clearly been set to auto-spring-clean. Despite my poor memory, if I could earn a living as a perpetual student learning about all the things that interest me, I most certainly would. In college, depending on which way my interests blew there too my manifold undeclared majors followed. Eventually my need to feel productive would kick in and I’d stop for a while and work full-time until I’d sufficiently starved my mind then I’d return to study something else. I couldn’t bring myself to simply finish a major, any major, and get my degree. I had the irrational thought in my head that if I got a degree, I’d be done. The thought of simply continuing on with a graduate degree seemed too narrow. I thought I’d be cut off from the broad palette as it were. Did I mention the irrational thought part yet? Years and years passed, yes, apparently I needed a vast expanse of hindsight to give me clarity, before I could realize that nothing was going to quell my love of learning. With that new thought in mind, I finished my degree which I found, surprisingly, was sort of like taking a napkin and wiping your mouth after a wonderful meal. Now who’s up for dessert? Sculpture anyone?
I never wanted to get married. I had always felt that marriage was equivalent to death. I couldn’t even begin to tell you the origin of that feeling. I do know, however, that it felt like the time when I was little and an ocean wave swept over me from behind and I suddenly found myself blind, disoriented and drowning until, out of nowhere, my mother’s hand reach out to save me. Anyway, I was so sure of the death scenario that when my boyfriend and I, on a whim after years of avoidance, decided to get married I asked him if we could just elope. I mean, surely, one or both of us would simply
bail at the last-minute anyway, wouldn’t we? With that rather sad, pathetic and yet oddly comforting thought in mind, we headed to the nearest justice of the peace. All the way over there my breath became more and more constricted uncertain if I could let that feeling of impending doom go. When we arrived, a tall, lovely and serene woman greeted us and lead us to a room which was bright and clean and centrally arranged with a huge red circular sectional. Artfully placed about the room was an unusually large and vaguely ethnic assortment of hand drums. Wait, I thought. Don’t they use those for drumming circles? Is that sage I smell? Seriously, am I getting married by a shaman? Awesome. Wisely, she kept the ceremony short and sweet and when my husband reached out, clasped my hand and slid the ring on my finger, I felt myself finally come up for air feeling wonderfully happy, lucky and safe. And not even the least bit dead.
I’m not saying “If you love something, let it go.” No, really, how trite would that be? I’m saying if you barely like it, or it’s no longer serving you, or worse, it’s holding you back, yes, it might be time to let it go. Whether you want to make room for something better or newer or you simply want to feel lighter and freer, then it’s time for spring-cleaning. So go ahead, get whatever it is out of whichever dark what-the-h*ll-is-that corner of your closet, the hidden but-somebody-told-me recesses of your mind, or the sheltered oh-baby-I-didn’t-mean-it sanctuary of your heart it’s tucked away in and run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. Who’s up for a bonfire? Wait, no, stay away from the books.