Friday, February 8, 2008

Paper Memories

I confess, I hate clutter but that doesn't stop it from piling up from time to time. Today I awoke with a sense of purpose, I would tackle those household jobs that seem to be swept aside all too easily as the days turn into weeks, then months, and sometimes years. I would conquer and clean my office today!

It has gone through a number of transitions through the years and the time is long overdo for another makeover. I vowed to weed through all of the piles of paperwork, cull my overflowing files of old articles, emails, notes and photos. It was time for Operation ODP! (Organize, Dust and Polish)

But you know the old saying when it comes to cleaning, "It will get worse before it gets better." So here I sit, after hours of attempted paper purging surrounded by even more piles of files. What has taken me so long you might ask? Well, you see, as I weeded through all the clutter, bits of tangible, tactile memories began to float to the surface, whispering "Stop and remember."

There was the bookmark my storytelling mentor and friend, Leanne Johnson gave to me. A stunning graphic of her graces the front; she is smiling, waving, urging us to come, sit, listen and share. I place it in a new book I just bought, she will be safe there.

In another pile I found the silly business card she made for me. We were joking one day about what we should place on our business cards and I said, very definitively, "I want mine to read, The all knowing goddess of light and love, ruler of the planets, stars and outer galaxies." Always ready for a good laugh Leanne quickly printed up a set of cards on her home computer and mailed them straight away to me. Just holding them makes me smile.

To the right of my desk, in back of some notepads were photos taken at the National Festival in Jonesboro through the years. Groups of us laughing, huddling close, wearing heavy coats, hats and gloves because it was so cold. The next shows us all sporting short sleeves and sandals, beaming in the warm sunshine; Indian Summer weather to be sure. The photos make me wistful for friends I haven't seen in a long time and those I will probably never see again.

To the left, tucked between two folders is a birthday card from my dear friend Meg. In this fast paced world of emails and e-cards, Meg took the time to author a lovely handwritten note. Her words filled me with joy then, and do now. I keep this card to read again and again, reminding me how lucky I am to have friends such as her. No, this definitely won't find its way into the wastebasket.

Ahhh, tucked away in one of my many file drawers I discover colorful crayon pictures drawn by some children who came to one of my storytelling shows. I can't let them go either; their happiness jumps right off the page, filled with the irresistible charm of youth. I will scan them and one day place them up on my website for others to enjoy.

I finally find something that I am ready to toss into the wastebasket, a storytelling newsletter from England, circa 2001. Oh but wait, as I sit cross-legged on the floor, I can't resist flipping through the pages one last time. There, on page 16 sits a lovely story, one I have never read before and it shouts, "Keep me, learn me, tell me!" I make myself a note about the tale so it will not languish any longer in limbo, and back into the file it goes.

Among the Coppermine Eskimos, Cree and Ojibwa, there is no word for goodbye; I can relate. Yes, it seems that today I kept many more things than I let go, but each is important and holds a place in my heart. So I will sweep as many cobwebs away as I can, rearrange the books on my shelves, clear a spot for me to set my tea down, and begin anew tomorrow.


Brother Wolf said...

Hey Karen

i too struggle with clutter and things. I think some times that those boxes of files in the attack that I have not opened in three years - could the really be worth the hundred hours I spent in 99 organizing them. I have been thinking about how my mind is full of clutter as well. I just wander how many of my problems are because i hold on to stuff that on mythic level represents the clutter of my soul.

Wrestling with My Brain Blog post

Granny Sue said...

I think it gets deeper as we get older. When my parents passed away, all my siblings took home bits and pieces that held memories for them. I have a box, for instance, of old, old letters and photos that my grandparents and my parents wrote, from 1922 on. Can't let that go. Then there are the things Karen mentioned--the cards from friends, letters, aritcles I think about using for something one day...I'm a good purger, but the older I get the more things seem to mean to me, and the more things there are. It could be clutter of the soul, as Eric says, but for me it represents the patchwork quilt of my life and heritage.

BYRSTN said...

I like Granny Sue's analogy. The things I keep (and they are plentiful) help make up the quilt that is me. I did get into the FlyLady ( cult (as I call it) when we lived in MA. There are lots of things that left that apartment in Raynham. Most, I haven't missed. But I realized that what one person calls clutter is precious to another. So what if I have two large boxes of cards. On the rare occasions that I stumble upon them, they bring me pleasure. I do try to get rid of old unneeded business documents. And recently when I pay a bill on line I make the receipt into a pdf instead of printing it out. No trees are harmed in that approach and I di have a pretty organized desktop so I can find it if I ever need it.