Month: March 2010

Shedding and shredding

I continue to move. It started just shy of three weeks ago when I got the keys to the new place. I’ve been pleased with how much of my stuff will fit in my small-ish car. Of course, I continue to wish each carload made a more visible emptiness in the old apartment.

I borrowed a shredder this weekend because I have a lot of old receipts and a filing cabinet full of old papers, and there’s no reason to keep, let alone move, most of it. I’ve gone through three folders so far, and might I note that it’s highly satisfying. As I tweeted, shredding might even be more satisfying than popping bubble wrap. (Melissa’s query about how satisfying shredding bubble wrap would be has me intrigued…)

Anatole, too, is riveted by the shredder. It’s big enough to be intimidating, and makes that somewhat loud growly noise. Great entertainment. 🙂

But the most satisfying part of all of this, so far, is the removal. Of clearing out the detritus and excess of my material life in bags to Goodwill and the dumpster, in recycling bins to the curb, in bags and boxes of things returned to their proper owners, and in old paper through the shredder.

I got in a fairly decent habit of not accumulating too much when I lived in Sydney. After all, the apartment wasn’t that big, and at the end of the year, whatever I took home would have to be (very) expensively shipped or fit in my luggage. And in the next two places I lived, space was minimal, there wasn’t room for a lot of furniture, etc.

That changed somewhat when I moved into the (now) old apartment. I needed more furniture, had a pretty good amount of storage, and it was the first place I’d lived by myself. And I expanded accordingly. Granted, three years living here is nothing like the 20 years the people who live above me have lived here. I’ve seen their storage closet. It is literally a solid wall of stuff. I don’t know how they get the door closed.

However, there’s a lot of symbolism to this move, which I won’t get into right now, but there’s very much a strong “next chapter” aspect to it. And so the shedding and shredding of stuff I don’t need, want, or have room for fits very well with that, and makes me feel better about a lot of things.

Also, living in the chaos of managing work, life, moving, attending/speaking at a conference, and planning a trip — all recently and currently going on — discarding things is one of the few tasks I have lately that gives me some feeling of control over things. For that I’m grateful.

As a bookend, once I’m ensconced in the new place, there will be a list of stuff I need to acquire, and doing so, as part of home-ifying the new place, making it mine, will be very satisfying as well.

Some day (hopefully not soon) I’ll pick up more boxes and ask friends to save newspapers (will there will be newspapers for packing?) and start choosing between what to move and what to throw out once again, hopefully on the way to an even bigger and better chapter in my life.

And closing the door for the last time, I’m sure I’ll wonder, as I always have, about the parts of ourselves: the pains, pleasures, and memories we leave behind in the places we live, and how they blend with those of previous inhabitants, and if they have any effect on those who come after.

Imperative and Declarative

I marvel at the iron-clad certainty of the young. They toss around words like “never” and assertions of what they would do in any hypothetical situation as easily as a hacky sack.

I think part of why I find their sureness so fascinating is because I’m not that much older than they are, and while I don’t really recall now, I’m sure I must have had similar notions 10, 15 years ago. But I see how much my own perspectives have changed to this point.

Sure, some young people have comments and ideas that are very easy for me to dismiss as stupid or shallow. But others are bright and thoughtful and still possess this certainty.

What must people think who are a half-century or more older? Do 20-somethings seem utterly ridiculous, or are our thought patterns circular, and with age we swing back around and again shore up our convictions, becoming utterly certain, once more, of various things in life?

Which begs the question, at what point in life do we get at least close to the ideal balance as possible of wisdom and strength of conviction? And is that time our most productive and does it produce our best decisions?

I’ll check back in another 50 years and let you know…

Musings and melancholy

Depression’s Upside

Interesting read about some newer theories behind depression, which are linked in good part to evolutionary theory, and some related cognitive research. Basically it’s an exploration of whether there’s some benefit to depression, given that it’s been around so long and is so prevalent, and on the surface would seem to have an entirely negative effect on people, in a survival-of-the-fittest way.

He wasn’t kidding about the c**k…