I Threw Something Away

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Yes, alert the media.  This is big.

I get rid of stuff all the time.  I do the semi-annual give-away-old-clothes-books-gadgets clean out, and have done for years.  But something is different now.  In part inspired by #reverb10, during December I reflected on the past year and envisioned what I wanted for 2011.  One of the reflections was about letting go, actually and metaphorically, and I wrote about that here.  I hired an assistant to come in and teach me how to deal with . . .

Dun dun DUNNNNNN. . .

Paper.

I’ve read dozens of self-help, get-organized books, and have learned to be very well organized in most aspects of my life.  Furthermore, I have several friends who are professional organizers of the highest caliber.  I could sense when one of them would begin to salivate at the prospect of straightening me out, as they sniffed around for their opportunity to ensnare me.  I valued their friendship more than I wanted to risk their wrath and judgment, so I never hired them to help me with what I really needed.  For me, the breakdown was that most of what I read was about how to keep everything organized.  I really wanted to have less to have to organize in the first place.  My previous strategies had reached their expiration date. My prior level of organization was no longer adequate for today’s demands and challenges.  I knew what result I wanted, but I didn’t know how to get there.

My new assistant, who comes for another five hours this Friday,  provided a hub for what I realized were just random informational “spokes” whirling around in my life, poking me, lacerating the surroundings, and good for nothing.  With her “hub,” the spokes have something to attach to — the crucial missing piece.  I am now capable of self-propulsion.

I have become a dedicated and enthusiastic shredder.  I have shredded so much accumulated and outdated paper, that my partner jokes, “Are we closing the Embassy?” I have embraced the ideal of a paperless office, even if I never completely get there.   All information about each of my accounts is available online anyway, so I have stopped most incoming mail from those accounts and vendors.  I’ll be scanning the documents I really do need, so digital versions will replace the paper clogging my file cabinets and my brain. I have external hard drives and cloud storage available to back up my back ups, so I feel fantastic.  I have become pitch-happy, ready to part with almost anything.  If it can be shredded, so much the better.

The title of this post is the spoiler for a tiny event tonight that has changed everything.   It’s not just that I can throw something away:  it’s that I realize I have learned something, and have applied my capacity to think critically and use that new learning instead of using my old habitual “Default” setting of “I must keep this.”  Here’s how it went:

I received my new EZ Tag in the mail yesterday, and went online to activate it. (An EZ Tag lets me go through the “fast lane” on Texas toll roads in major metro areas.) I put the EZ Tag on my windshield, according to the directions.  A print-out showed me my tag number, order number for activation, and my account balance.  I thought:  where do I keep this brochure and the enclosed information?  In the glove box?  No.  In a file?  So as I looked at this packet, I thought:  I don’t need the brochure cover, so that can be recycled.  I don’t need the instructions for how to apply my tag to the windshield, because that is done.    There’s this document that has my activation code — shall I scan it?  Wait a minute.  I have already activated it online.  The only other information on the page is my account balance, which is also available online.

SHREDDER!!!! <zzzzzzzzzzhhhhhhzzzzzzhhhhhhzzzzzzhhhhhh> and DONE.

Moshe Feldenkrais said, “Any adjustment is evidence that learning has occurred.”  Each milestone, no matter how seemingly small, is a marker on a larger journey of progress.  The Feldenkrais Method is based on this kind of gentle, incremental, transformational learning.  When you look back at the baby steps, you can see how far you have come.

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