"It's just so permanent," my daughter said, as she watched us feed ten years of bills and receipts through a shredder. She was right. What amounted to six grocery bags of uniformly sliced paper strips would soon be gone, and gone or not, the papers were essentially gone already. After all, can you even imagine trying to piece together a slip of paper once a shredder has done its work? Can you even imagine taping together the hundreds of strips that make up a single piece of paper?
We--especially we freelancers--are not so used to permanent. We go through life believing that both
the things we like and the things we don't like will change. We forge ahead,
believing that we can change paths and outcomes if we try a little
harder, "want it" a little more. And yet, the strips of paper emerging
from the shredder remind us that some things really are permanent.
I tend to find that in cleaning up, elimination gives me much more of a
sense of peace than simply creating order. As bags--of no longer needed
clothing or of shredded paper--go out the door, I feel, often quite
literally, as though a weight has been lifted from me. Perhaps it's not
the actual weight or size of the items being eliminated. Maybe the sense
of peace is actually in the permanence of it all. When items are
organized, they are still there to become disorganized. When they are
eliminated, they are no longer present to crowd me, to create chaos
around me, to engender discord in my home. When they are gone, whether
by shredding or by placing the bags in a one-way donation chute, the
items are gone, permanently gone. So permanently that there is no choice
but to move on. And moving on can feel very good.
So, when my daughter says "it's just so permanent," she's right. There
are lots of times when we can undo and redo. And there are times when we
just have to shred, and accept, and move on. Which leaves us time--and
space--to work on what's not so permanent.