Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shift, Delete

I just made a bold, but scary decision, that may make some of you chuckle, since it will be a foreign concept to you. As I save paper, I save electronic documents. Sorting through the piles takes up so much time & energy in my life--it drains me. When I think about the generational inheritances I received like struggles with anger, divorces throughout the family, a history of secrets and alcoholism, estranged family members and more, another issue that looms heavily is the fight against clutter.

Since I know that many of my family members are reading this blog now (hi!), I'll try not to write an expose, here, but suffice to say, I come from a family of Keepers. Tom comes from a family of Tossers. Married life can be challenging when he regularly asks me, "Do we need this?" and I regularly answer, "I'll take care of it..." Twelve years, and the dialogue remains the same, only each of us is more frustrated. He asks, "Do we really need this!?" and I reply, "I will take care of it!!" In other words, "That's mine. Take your paws off. It's none of your beeswax!"

Funny.

Not really.

Anyway, having my own computer has been a Godsend, because I haven't had to justify a single thing I hoard. Tom doesn't know I have 2500 emails saved in the inbox that stretch back through the life of our nearly-five-year-old-son. Well, he does now, I suppose, since he is also one of the readers of this blog (sorry, Honey!). Where others might have to hide addictions from their spouses, I just hide my hoarding.

But tonight (oh, Glory!) I got serious and erased every email in the inbox prior to one year ago. That equaled over 1000 emails. I now have only 1481 remaining. Why do I need 1400 emails? Because I return to them for reference all the time! New addresses sent from others get flagged until I can go through them all & transfer them into my Address Book on the Mac (that was valuable at Christmastime, when I sent out our annual photo/letter). Why do people keep moving? Stop moving so much! (Oh, that ought to be directed at myself!! In twelve years of marriage, Tom & I have had six addresses, ourselves...since I was born, nearly 38 years ago, I've had sixteen!).

Anyway, celebrate with me. I am really paring down my crazies. Are you? I am trying to thin life down to only materials and information that are relevant to my parenting life, my spiritual growth, and the health of my family. I love all of the people I know from China to Texas, but I have overwhelmed myself with the expectation of staying on top of it all...all the time. And, I'm a control freak in my home, so I have to start letting go more. Let go of more. Let go of a LOT!!

Now, those final 1400 or so emails can be pared down again when I organize them by which I've replied to...(if there is a copy in the sent folder, then it's time to delete the original). My friend Stephanie keeps a nearly empty inbox. Debbie is more like me--saving it all as an archive. But, before there were computers, we just had conversations, and remembered them.

Before there were cell phones we were only available by phone if we were in our homes. Now, if I do not answer my husband's calls throughout the day, he wonders if I'm OK. He leaves multiple messages. Mom does too. "Where are you?" my Dad leaves on my voicemail. Well, I'm out & about, and I don't suppose I need to account for my every location at every hour...but neither should I have to account for every piece of paper or email...

Back to the inbox...I'm going to try to bring that number under 1000.

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