Funny. Now toss it. I am in the process of purging 56 years of ‘stuff’. Easy with furniture, clothes and household goods. Not so easy when it comes to books, letters and memorabilia of my life.
Friends and colleagues who are supporting my decision to go Nomad for the back 9 months of this year, have been willing recipients of photos of old notes, of our shared history, and other items that mark a date in time. The middle school yearbook (I peaked in 1979 with Best Dressed and Best Personality), prom photos, random snapshots of friends laughing in my many childhood homes, wedding photos – they have all been discovered in the last two weeks. In sharing these images, I am taking a walk down memory lane; revisiting my personal history that intersects with many people that I am still close with today. The question then turns into, what now? What do I do with the ‘thing’ that I am holding and just shared?
I have come to realize that a shared moment, a laugh, and then a toss is my best path to my desired outcome – to declutter and shed a voluminous history. Time and time again the past few weeks, the text reply to random photos has been, “Funny. Now toss it.” We shared a laugh or an out-of-context reflection and now that the moment has passed; it is time to toss the original.
Other people may come to the same outcome in a different way. Some suggested scanning all the photos to have them for later. Others want me to send off the images to others so the clutter goes elsewhere. I have also thought about not sharing them at all, choosing instead to reminisce alone. It is less about the process than the outcome, which is one of my key leadership training principles: “Is it wrong, or is it not my way?”
My way is working for me. Slow but steady, the boxes are emptying, the memories are being shared, the shredder is working overtime to pulverize pictures and art projects, notes, letters and bills. I have come to realize that the memories are not in the ‘thing’ but in my heart – and therefore they go with me wherever I am. Even if the original is tossed.
If I haven’t looked at the item in 30, 40, even 45 years, do I need to hold onto it for posterity? My answer is no. Well, mostly no. I am keeping items with a certain depth of sentiment and also items I believe my kids will enjoy discovering when they go through my things many years from now. Those keepsakes are fewer and farther between and easier to distinguish the longer I go through the many boxes I have stored.
For now, the process is:
Laugh at the discovery
Share the laugh
Wait for a reaction
And if I send you anything random over the next 60 days, feel free to just say “Funny. Now Toss It.”