I picked a few one-sided worksheets from the nutrition unit in 8th grade F.C.S. and annotated them with silly comments. I wrote my letter on the back. They wrote back saying they enjoyed the notes and they had thrown theirs away long ago. I had put mine away in a box with the rest of my school stuff. I found them again about a year and a half later when I was going through the box and trying to find things to throw away. When the idea for the letters came to my mind, I don’t think I was glad that I had kept them so I could look at my notes again. I was excited that I had found treasure that I could share with friends for laughs.
Many of the other one-sided school worksheets went into my forever-growing scratch paper supply. The sheets that already had both sides used went into the recycling bin. After a while it was easy to see that keeping them did not serve a purpose. But for some other things, others say to hold onto.
I’ve heard people say, keep your journals. Keep things to remind you of the memories. And I would love to play the stories again. The more I hear opinions that insist on the value of keeping (so many) certain treasures, the more I wonder if I will regret letting myself forever forget a detail. But what’s gone is gone, and what’s done is done, and maybe all the time needed to keep track of all that everything can be dedicated to actually living.
I remember a writing teacher emphasizing this point: Never throw away any of your drafts, ever. Never? Ever. As much as that was drilled into me, I have not obeyed it. My writing process is a stray word vomit dump. My first drafts tend to be very difficult to read and a mess. I usually keep some of the later, readable versions, as well as some of my notes, so I can reference them if I decide to take another direction with the work. Instead of agonizing over not being able to look back at the beginning stages of my writing process (which can give me a headache anyway), maybe I can focus on my current writing, and there so much to write and be inspired by.
I don’t like obnoxious selfie poses or how the way the Snapchats self-destruct in a few seconds makes people think they can send any pictures they want. At first, I thought Snapchat was just a tween fad. One day, I read a Time magazine piece about Snapchat and it gave me another perspective on the messaging app. Someone said something about sharing fleeting moments of silliness with your friends. I didn’t really have an epiphany after reading that, but now I like how the pictures self-destruct in a few seconds. People can share a moment at that moment, and do whatever the opposite of hoarding pictures is called (except for screenshotting which ruins that part).
School’s Out, Now It’s Summer
While recycling many school papers at the end of the school year can play a role in eliminating clutter, I add many of those papers to an already infinite scrap paper supply. The paper supply hangs out with a crafts supply that includes random objects that may or may not someday be re-purposed. And then there’s the clothing I tried to re-purpose but sort of ruined, that I might be able to fix or do something with someday, but for now it hangs out uselessly.
I have a lot of sewing and crafts clutter. Maybe I can use some of that. Not because I’m trying to beat the clutter, but because I would like to try some of the projects I have in mind. Something makes me believe unpicking the seam of a t-shirt is worth time that would be wasted on “funny” Youtube videos (which I don’t actually watch. So even if I didn’t have any t-shirts to deconstruct, I wouldn’t waste my time on videos of people doing weird and/or painful things. A more likely drain of my time would be reading about lots of things like sewing but never using any of that knowledge. But I thought the Youtube videos phrase would sound more poetic and I kind of wanted to write a long parenthetical thought. So here.)
What will make me look back on this summer and say I spent it well? That it was a great summer? In the past I thought I needed to experience something epic, but I don’t think anymore that it works that way. There’s no way I’m going to accomplish everything I have in mind to sew/write/make/do. That would be amazing. But if I can do some of that, learn, grow, and see beauty in the perhaps ordinary process, maybe I will spend my time well.