Jan 16, 2011

Out with the Old, In with the New

It's that time of the year again, after I come back from my yearly trip to Hungary, when I sit down and start cleaning up my room. Not much real cleaning needs to be done because my folks had the room painted, and my control freak, neat freak Mom took it to herself to clean up everything. Things also got massively rearranged, and though everything looks perfect, I find it difficult to find my things, so this year the need to go over every single scrap of paper was a must in the really short term.

Yearly clean-ups are one of the favorite activities of every single, true control freaks or organization junkies. Personally, I love the feeling of letting go of things. Let go of old papers, let of of old clothes, let go of old shoes, let go of old things. Sometimes it's really difficult, as you hold in your hand that thing a dear friend or beloved relative gave you once, but then you ask yourself: where did I have it stashed? Did I used it everyday? And when you realize it wasn't part of your décor, nor you used it everyday, and maybe there's someone who could make a better use of it, letting it go feels like a rain of feathers. It tickles good. The trick is also to remember that you throw away or give away a thing, not the feeling, the person or the memory. Personally, I'm big of keeping really useless things, such as old plane tickets. But it's the ticket or the memory of the trip? So tickets must go, and what means has already been saved in my memory and my journals.

I don't let go of certain things, like letters - I may have lost some, but for instance I still keep all the letters I've got from my friends when I was in Hungary between 1994 and 1996 - or university papers, but others can be thrown away. Loads and loads of paper, which I intend to send to a selective recollection center for them to be recycled, have already been stocked out of my filer, yet a lot is still to be checked and eliminated, or found a new home.

You can also find from time to time some documentation that though important, or still valid, could be saved in some other, more space efficient way. Scan some old investigations and save them in a digital format, thus liberating more paper, which can be send for recycling and reusing. As you check over all the things you keep around you, at the office, at home, and why not? in your purse, or even your computer, you come across many things that have an inflated sense of importance, that do nothing but clutter your life. Remember, if you haven't used it in a year, you probably won't use it again, but someone else would be happy to.

As a Begining of the Year personal ritual, I cast away the things I won't take with me in the new journey, things I lock in the past, give away for someone else to find them use, and step into the new year with lighter baggage, full of hope and space for all the new each year has to offer. Don't lay down the experiences and the lessons learned, but be wise enough to lay down the tools that have served you, and let others find the lessons that are still inside each of them.

This year, more than in the last ones, I'm preparing for yet another journey, a journey many are waiting for with motivations as different as the people in the planet. Some with joy, some with sorrow, some with envy, some with pety selfishness. Yes, one action provokes many reactions, and these reactions could provoke many feelings inside many people. I'm concentrating on my trip, my journey, my process. My first step is to become light, to shed all excess and find the bare necessities I need to carry over with me, leaving as much room as possible for all the important things that must come with me. Thus I'm shedding, and through this journey I'll continue shedding as much as I can, keeping a critic view to know what must stay, what must go, leave fondless aside. Hopefully it will work out, but if it doesn't work out as well as it should, maybe seasonal cleaning-up will have to be set up, right?

Getting organized isn't something that can happen over night. Perhaps you watch those shows in the TV, where a super messy family or person get's the help of an organizing professional and thus they turn a cluttered "vortex of enthropy" into a neat room you'd love to be in and work in. Do you wonder, just like me, how much time passes before that perfect room, where everything stays in place, remains like that? Well, not for long, I assure you. And it's okay, as long as you are willing to eventually come around and set order before the mess takes over your life.

My advise is simple in this case, though perhaps not very scientifical. First of all accept yourself the way you are. So you are lazy every now and then and don't really feel like putting away your clothes, or washing the dishes. Sure, take a break, but don't take it every day. Second of all, remember that a clean, organized space doesn't put stress on you. Organized places don't hide the things you need from you. An organized place will allow you to find that bill you need to pay, and even remind you you gara pay it. It helps you find the keys, the leash of your dog, the phone, the magazine you were reading, the purse taht goes with those shoes, your other shoe, your watch, the essay you must present, the pendrive with your month's work, a pen that works, your iPod, etc.

Organizing isn't a chore, a duty, a punishment, it's fun. Organizing is the perfect time to check over everything, find long lost item, discover treasures and the perfect excuse to get rid of everything you don't need, or don't really need. Cleaning up, getting organized is the process throug which you get to be free, is the process that prepares you to travel light.

Go on, try it out, travel light.

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