Last night, I attacked a stack of clutter that has been staring me down for years. I have a strange need to keep papers. In part, I think I am fearful that I will lose my memory one day and my detailed lists will be evidence of the life I lived.
Lists. The word alone makes me smile. I am a maker of lists…a lover of them, really. Though any somewhat-blank surface of paper will do, I have an addiction to spiral-bound notebooks. Eric (my enabler) once bought me a pack of superbly thick ones at Costco. This was in 2004.
I had taken to stacking the notebooks on a bookshelf in my room when they were full. Here’s why: After going through them last night, I could tell you exactly what each girl got in their stocking for the last four Christmases. I could tell you what Coco and I brought to her fifth grade science camp.
I could relive some heated arguments with my husband and remember the emotions that were so strong I felt the need to record them. I could even tell you what I ate on April 8, 2005.
That stack of notebooks has been the one thing standing between me and a clutter-free house, and therefore a clutter-free brain. So, I did the unthinkable. I sat down for a good two hours and went through every single notebook.
I pulled out the pages I would someday use, such as story ideas. I kept a couple pages of cute doodles from my daughters. In my hands were about ten pages. The rest, I bravely chucked.
Having accomplished this task…I can breathe easier now. Yet a part of me knows that no matter how many systems I develop to conquer paper; I always end up with a stack somewhere that has to be dealt with.
All was not in vain, however. I learned a few things about myself reading my old lists. Things like this:
I have been worrying about what I eat for way too long.
I like making lists about cleaning more than I like cleaning.
I have a great book in me if I could just sit down and write it.
I am more forgiving than I thought. So is my husband.
Yes, I am happy to be free of my paper burden, but in a way I am now even more convinced that keeping records of some kind is a good idea.
What I do refuse to toss are my old prayer journals. What better way to remember life than through my most heartfelt prayers? What better way to see what God has done?
All this makes me wonder. Maybe my prayer journals should look more like my notebooks did. After all, God did create my mind to work like this. Why not share my lists with Him? My great ideas and dreams. My rants.
What if I had spent as much time hanging out with God as I did making all these lists? What if I had thirty notebooks full of communion with God?
Now those would be worth saving.