|A fraction of the collection.|
"The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself." - Joan DidionI'm not a particularly good minimalist. I have high hopes for my potential to own as little as possible but in the meantime I've got this stupid... sentimental?... streak that compels me to hang on to things that I haven't used or looked at in ages. I think about getting rid of things for a long time before they actually get gone. I've got a few trinkets from my Grandparents' house. I've got some kitchen stuff that I just like the idea of but have no memory of using. And I have years' worth of notebooks and journals full of, if memory serves, complaints about the minutiae of everyday life.
I've never revisited these journals and I still don't want to look at them. And yet they're all stowed in my hope chest as though they're something treasured: Antique linens, family photos, and 20 years of journals that no one should see. Part of the reason I'm a minimalist is because I'm aware that someone will have to deal with the material fall-out after I've died and I'm quite motivated to make sure that the task is as easy as possible.
I do still keep a journal, but I use it differently now. Ten years ago my journal was a diary; it was a record of the weather and what I ate and how I felt. These days I journal to jog my memory, and to keep notes and quotes about things I want to learn more about. I use it more as a reference and do go back and re-read my notes, but only when I'm still using that particular book. Once I've filled it and put it in the hope chest, it's out of my mind. I tried not having a notebook but felt its absence acutely. The time I spend writing is frequently the only time during the day when my thoughts are purposeful and pointed. I need to physically write things down. It helps me remember, and also gives me a clue about how to find things later based on handwriting, pen or pencil colour, etc.
I'm currently working through the contents of a recently recycled metal filing cabinet. Once all those papers and important life documents have been organized and sorted, I'm moving on to those journals. The journals are destined for the mixed paper bin at the recycling center. I've been debating getting rid of these journals for years. When I finally do I think it'll be liberating. It's going to be soon...