Do you know what’s sad?
For twenty years, I saved all my college course notes and textbooks. Two and a half college degrees: that’s a lot of paper.
Worse, I carted them around — and trust me, they weren’t light — on at least seven moves. Yet I never once looked at them.
They sat in our basement, covered in a thick layer of dust. If books and papers could wonder, they’d wonder why they were still under our stairs after all those years. What were my plans for them? When would the Big Day come?
Well, the Big Day eventually did arrive — only it was different than expected. My wife, always more accepting of change than I am, finally convinced me to recycle the entire mess.
The pain I experienced was also unexpected. I didn’t feel nostalgia, or suffer pangs for long-lost magical moments of my education. No, what hurt was to come across those terrible papers I’d written, reminders of poor study habits, immaturity, and an embarrassing lack of comprehension.
Good riddance indeed. I won’t have to lug those dusty, filthy things on our next move.
But what really happened was a purging of personal history.
Initially, I struggled with this. The truth is in the record — my books, my notes, and my papers were primary source materials, documenting an important time in my life. To trash them was to trash the truth.
What I’ve learned since taking this leap is that the lesson is more important than the truth.
I feel as if much of my real education has been a direct reaction to flailing about during my college years. The lessons aren’t in the documents — they’re now in me.
So I was glad to free myself of this physical burden. And the psychic one too: I don’t need to relive the painful moments, as the lessons have now sunk in.
You might want to consider doing something similar.
Not so long ago, a very smart person created a new holiday — Discardia! — to be celebrated four times a year. It’s a great idea, and every time I clear things out, I feel better physically and psychologically. Discardia’s slogan is “Let go of everything that doesn’t make your life awesome!”
What personal rubbish lurks under the stairs of your basement? Or in your mind?
Let it go. And make your life awesome.