And now, over a week into this little adventure, we come to the question of "why."
Why spend one's time weeding through old objects, rather than working on creating new ones?
Why toss what there is room to keep? What one might need, sometime, later on? What is a perfectly good book/recipe/dress/idea/your-clutter-here?
For me, I have finally realized, the issue comes down to focus: where will I put my time and attention, these precious and finite and rapidly dwindling resources I've had dumped in my lap? And while the wanderings and the questionings and the experiments of my life up until now have led me closer, especially the years since my hospital-bed epiphany, and especially-especially the few years since I quit acting, I had reached a point (I guess, I suppose) where the poking-prodding kind of exploration and the picking-peeling kind of excavation were not enough.
It was time for drastic measures, and for me, that meant hard choices.
Will I carry around the dreams of my parents, my grandparents, of all the intentions that were good enough but still only approximations of what I could dream up or synthesize on my own? Will I continue to be the living steward of the dead items of the dead?
Deeper still, will I stay in habits or look at them, rip them from me and put them under a good, bright light, to see whether they are habits that support or habits that make me sleepy, that keep me from doing the Next Big Thing, or even from freeing myself enough to start the hunt for it?
I am a big one for comfort, possibly because I am so brutal with myself. What if I were to find the ways that really deeply satisfy, that truly create room and support instead of these approximations of it? Not that there's anything wrong with Mad Men marathons, a few glasses of wine, the ritualistic bedtime viewing of Play Misty for Me (first two reels only!). Pleasures are a valid thing, and I'm fer 'em!
In the same way, though, that a daily morning walk can be irksome at times, it is the daily-ness of it that provides a great deal of its utility: you don't floss your teeth all at once and expect that to work, either. (Or you maybe do, but one trip to my dentist, a fine woman, but with a Mengele-like thoroughness when it comes to her job, will strip you of your delusion right quick.)
Oddly, or perhaps not, the fresh space and openness that this decluttering creates makes me feel (slightly) braver about switching up habits. I'm fond, perhaps overly so, of my glass or two of wine when the sun goes down; not taking it makes me look harder at why I was taking it, and sorting through which of the times was out of relaxing, a desire for conviviality, a small pleasure, and which out of a need to buffer, anesthetize, ignore. Ditto TV (or rather, digital video entertainment of some sort) vs. reading or talking before bed, email and other Internet pleasures in the morning, third cup of coffee, same pair of ill-fitting-and-beat-to-shit pants, saving magazines to pass along to Miss Pat, saving clippings, and notes, and ideas, against some "future use."
Don't get me wrong: I know that as a writer, a translator of emotions into thought and thought into words I will always collect some kind of stuff Against Future Use. But a part of the program has to be use, and that requires actual review. Or, to paraphrase my wise friend, Matthew Cornell, "God help your system if you don't have some kind of review built into it." (Feel free to point us back to the actual link, Matt, God help us if we trust me to find it in the rats' warren of delicious links, Stumbles, Evernotes and .txt files I've built for myself over the years.
So. The "why?" Well, clarity, for starters, or more clarity. Freedom, definitely. Tired of feeling bogged down by my environment, and trapped (rather than supported) by my stuff.
As the piles start to dwindle, though, I get the sense that this particular stripping down is me getting ready to say, "I'm a writer; this is what I do, I write."
Without the song and dance (for awhile). Without the "slashes". Without armor or defenses. They'll come back soon enough: I got the music in me and the postmodern world is all about slashes.
I will stop apologizing for being a writer, though, or waiting until such magical time in the hazy future when I am as good at it as my heroes, and just do the fucking work.
Do the hell out of the fucking work...