1. I took it all away! I can't believe it!
I had twelve (count'em, twelve) boxes of stuff left behind from my time in Canada, that I'd basically asked my dad to store in my old bedroom closet when I left for Korea in 2005. Problem is, then Dad went and moved, and I had no more place to keep all my stuff that I might, possibly, maybe need in the future when I go to grad school, have kids, or feel a hankering to read my old university textbooks.
Well, thing is, I spent so much time storing it, but I couldn't even remember what I had in there anymore -- must not have been very important to me!
Plus, I had no more PLACE to store it, as my family'd all spread out and moved on from our Agassiz times. My brother was kind enough to keep all twelve boxes !!! for me while I planned to come back to Canada, but also included the proviso that I MUST do something about it when I DO get back to Canada.
So this week, my main task has been to go through all that stuff and find out what's REALLY important, and what's just staying around for no good reason.
I finished. Four boxes of books and old clothes, a bag of trash, and probably one box I'll have to send to Korea, and one box Dad said I could send and have him keep at his house -- for some of the keepsakes that are irreplaceable, like Mom's baby diary of her pregnancy with me, yearbooks, etc.. It's amazing, when you think about it, how much clutter people generate in their lives -- living transiently, moving around, sure simplifies what's ACTUALLY important and what isn't. Today I loaded old clothes and stuff with "memories" (not very spectacular ones though) onto a truck and passed them on at value village. By the same token, I brough a whack of photo negatives to London Drugs to have them scanned onto CD for me. It'll be good to have that when I've passed on a lot of the other relics.
I feel freer now. Less encumbered, to be rid of so much stuff. Stuff. Yech. Now the trick is just not to think about it, so I don't start second-guessing the choices I made about what to keep and what to get rid of. Oh gee.
But really, the stuff isn't home. There's not really any such thing as home, other than the place where you feel safe and loved. (Watch Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events for more great thoughts on home. Or listen to Tom Waits.) Having that stuff around doesn't make me more in touch with my past, and getting rid of it doesn't unmoor me, because I know who I am, and who I was, and I've already learned what I had to learn from those times of my life.
Still, it was strange taking it away to the Value Village deposit.
You know the stuff that everybody says is "great" but it just doesn't resonate with you? Like when somebody says "You HAVE to see Braveheart! It's, like, the BEST movie EVER!" and you watch it, and it just doesn't do anything for you? These days, as much as everybody loves Bob Dylan, I just don't dig it. I'd rather someone go for clarity than obscurity in their lyrics. His singing style is very expressive, and his best (Blonde on Blonde, Blood on the Tracks) holds up with anything ever made, but I just don't find myself reaching for my Bob Dylan CDs very often.
And then the other stuff that people sniff at, but that always makes you happy? As lightly as he's regarded by many, I just can't stop enjoying Cat Stevens. Beyonce also always makes me smile, and by gum, what's wrong with having Hanson on your hard drive? I like some of the classic stuff too, but not because it's Very Influential in the History Of Music, because it's friggin great music, enjoyable and worthwhile! Maybe "Desolation Row" is deep, but "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (and "Wake Me Up Before You Go") make me want to dance!
Isn't it funny how we can feel self-conscious about other people's ideas of "greatness"? Now I'm guilty of doing this myself -- as a music afficionado (which is a music snob's equivalent to a cynic saying "I'm not a cynic; I'm just a realist"), I sometimes put on airs and say sniffy things like "Yeah, that's not bad music. . . for its intended audience" or "No, if you listen to it a few more times, it'll grow on you"
But I've recently decided to stop listening to music because somebody said it's great, and only listen to it if I enjoy it. I'll still listen to anything, but there are some styles that just don't make me really, compulsively listen again and again. And I'm OK with that. I deleted "Songs in the Key of Life" and Pink Floyd from my hard drive, for the same reason I threw out my "Chaucer" book -- as impressive as it looks to have it on the shelf, I don't actually read it.
If it turns out I miss it later, I can always replace it, and then I'll know there was more to it than I thought.
By the way, everybody reading this should find out about a singer from Toronto named Feist. I'm not saying it's great, I'm not saying YOU'll like it, but I do. Also, an album called "From Here We Go To Sublime" by The Fields.