Less clutter, more memories

by Ruth Griffiths

January is a month to make a new start … to clear out the old and begin afresh. So with good intentions, I made a to-do list that included “clear off desk”.

Anyone who visited the newsroom during my three decades at the Prince Albert Daily Herald, will know that my desk was usually buried in paper. I had a file cabinet and baskets that helped me keep things organized. But mainly I kept things in piles. I rarely threw out anything, because the only time you really need something is after you have put it into the garbage. Hidden under my desk was a large cardboard box with things that were on their way to the garbage bin but hadn’t made it yet. Many times I was down on my knees pawing through that box to find something that I was so glad I hadn’t yet thrown out.

My home office is ruled by the same organized chaos. If a piece of paper is filed, it effectively disappears. I prefer to organize things in piles. New things go on top, older things are at the bottom. It’s a system that works unless there is a paper slide that dumps everything into a jumble on the floor. Very few things get thrown out.

The extreme cold during the Christmas season kept me trapped indoors. I filled my time working through my to-do list. When I could procrastinate no longer, I tackled “clear off desk”. I was surprised to find some items on my desk that are at least three years old. Why were they still there? There were my granddaughter’s school photo proofs, funeral cards, newspaper clippings, Christmas cards with personal messages. I wasn’t ready to throw them out, but I didn’t want to file them, either. My solution was to create a memory box. I labeled it “Ruth’s Memories 2017” and dumped all the bits and pieces into the box. The desk is much cleaner and certainly better organized. But I haven’t had to throw out anything that I will certainly need only after the garbage has been picked up.

I know there is nothing very valuable in that box. The things inside only serve to spark memories. But when all is said and done, my memories are some of the most precious things I have. If I had to part with that memory box, it wouldn’t be a disaster because I would still have the memories. It’s just that the pictures and words on those papers help to make my memories stronger.
If I do one thing differently this year, I hope it is that I will make less clutter, but keep more memories.