Posted by: Chelsea Novak | January 10, 2008

The winter purge

Come winter time I am usually overtaken by the need to cut the fat, both physically, mentally and well, physically. I always want to lose the baggage I carry around my waist, but I also have this yen to shed the clutter in my head and the clutter in my house.

Since I’ve been doing this on an annual basis for awhile now, I’m starting to have less clutter to expel. There’s always some, because I’ve married a pack rat (who has his own room in our home where he can keep his crap thankfully) and because I hit a point where I have to stop myself or my OCD nature would have me living with nothing but three outfits, a toothbrush, my computer and a couple of tools for cooking. I just get really engrossed in the process.

I like order. It gives me a feeling of comfort and control that makes everything else in the world okay. Is it right? I don’t know. What I do know is that if the world ends tomorrow, I’ll be better off because I know that all of the instruction manuals for my appliances are neatly organized and accessible.*

When I do the purge there are some things from the past that I have traditionally clung to. School notes, projects, journals, bad teenage poetry and things like that. Every year I go through them reflect on the person I am and the person I was. There are things I find that I’m very proud of, but there are also things that make me feel badly about how messed up I’ve been at points in my life and I then clean ferociously for hours afterwards in a hope that it will make things right.

This year I made a choice. The things I was proud of, the certificates of my accomplishments in music, my diploma and degree, report cards, school notes of courses I actually still find interesting and other scrapbook worthy things I organized and stored. The things that made me feel continually broken, the journals where I wrote things that I don’t even remember doing or feeling, the bad poetry… well I did something that I’m sure some people will consider awful, but I threw it all out.

I used to think there was some kind of benefit to holding onto all the bad things in the past, but I don’t think that anymore. I know we are shaped by a combination of our positive and negative experiences, but by keeping those things I felt like I was paying the negative some kind of undue reverence.

I just don’t see the value in holding on it all any longer. It’s not like I need it to remind me that it would be a good idea not to get depressed again or that growing up can be great, but also really sad and messy. Those lessons, I get them. Life is short and I don’t think I need to give those lessons any more of my time nor do I need to feel badly about things disturbing and long forgotten.

Really, I’ve got more important things to organize in my world than bad memories.


*in total truth, they are not. It’s just something on my list of things to do this weekend. Just imagining how organized they will be makes me a little dizzy with delight. I’m not sure if I’m happy or embarrassed about that.


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