I had a conversation with my friend AAl on Twitter, regarding 2,051 emails in my inbox:
It’s a stream from which I pluck the occasional tasty salmon. It’s not all Things I Have to Deal With.
So… it’s like The Den. Filled mostly with stuff you don’t need, but maybe one thing might be useful?
At that moment, it hit me, what I was doing. The Den, as AAl and I have come to call it, is the personification of my clutter; a room in my house that is somehow possessed of a will of its own, compelling me to go out into the world and return with stuff with which to fill it.
It’s funny because it’s true.
I have a real problem discarding things, and I’ve tried so many ways of tricking myself into doing it, and none of them have really worked, long term. (I’m trying yet another one right now!) I certainly come by it honestly — my grandfather died, leaving a basement full to the brim of old junk, unopened mail, cobwebs, and fifty years of National Geographic. My parents rented a dumpster to clear out his house, and I’ve already rented a dumpster to clear out my own house, when we moved from Maryland to Seattle two years ago.
As fascinating as I found his basement when I was a kid, I’ve sworn that I wouldn’t leave a similar heap when I die. However, I don’t seem to really be making headway on that goal. It’s not just The Den — it’s my email and so many other areas in my life where I deal with the parts that I find interesting, and just let the rest of it flow by. The trouble is, it’s not a stream that will harmlessly find its level in the great sea, it’s a giant conveyor belt of crap that takes everything I didn’t pluck out, and dumps it in an enormous pile that someone will have to deal with eventually.
Probably that someone should be me. It is all Things I Have to Deal With.
I don’t really have the perfect solution here, or Ten Amazing Steps To Learn to Throw Crap Away, but envisioning my email inbox as a giant ugly pile of unopened letters, shitty Penny Saver magazines, and half-torn cardboard boxes really helped put things in a new perspective.