Sunday, August 08, 2004

Chucking away

I have a few days' vacation, and I'm trying to tidy up my room. It's hard. Every act of throwing away insults something treasured - if it weren't treasured, in even a small way, it would not have been kept. Every scrap repudiated is self-inflicted amnesia. Memories are so fragile that without the help of a memento they fade to nothing without a whisper. It's painfully irrevocable; when the keepsake is lost, the memory goes with it forever.

It's so much easier to accumulate. Every getting and keeping is a thrill: it's Christmas every time. We're all kids who desperately want that new toy on the supermarket shelf, but then can't be bothered to play with it the next day. It's so easy to buy, and the self-storage industry makes it so easy to keep, too.

Creating order requires effort - that much even physics knows. I can't jettison stuff directly; I create new piles of stuff-to-be-junked, hoping that each iteration will reduce the clutter a little. It's a tactile way to think through the decision to discard. A clear desk and tidy shelves are something to be savored, but Oh!, how quickly the entropy of desire takes over.

The hallowed monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience prove that making do with little is a challenge on a par with taming lust and submitting to the will of others. It's hard to lead a simple life. Living a complicated life is easy in comparison.

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