Self-discovery in decluttering

I am decluttering my studio to create space for creative thinking. This process is a great exercise in letting go and reminding me where a lot of my interests and passions have been cultivated.

In my delving today I found a handspun, hand knitted jumper from the himalayan region of Ladakh - a momento of the months I spent there volunteering 20 years ago. I kept this jumper becuase it reminded me of the amazing time I had there, because I met the woman who made it, and because purchasing this was a contribtion to the rebuilding of the local economy and handicrafts industry. The jumper is now full of holes and unwearable and I haven’t worn the jumper since I moved to Queensland 20 years ago because it is too thick and hot!  I want to keep it, but for what? Perhaps it's time to let go. I could return it to the soil and use it as mulch under a fruit tree, or I could darn it and donate it to someone in a cooler climate.

I was reminded too of how much of a letter writer I used to be before email. I discovered a huge bag of letters and postcards from my friends around the world.  I stay in contact with many of them still, but it is different. Emails are shorter and less personal, and many of us only stay in touch indirectly by watching each other’s lives through facebook. What do I do with the bag of letters? I want to keep them too, but that’s silly. Possibly the best use is to shred them and feed them to the worms.

I don’t get hand-written letters anymore, except for the odd one from Dad, or birthday cards from aunts and English relatives - most probably becuase I stopped writing them. I am being moved by this letter discovery to start handwriting letters to my friends again - to reconnect with them and to express myself more fully. I had a little read of the letters from my friends in the bag, I realised we used to share more deeply. Hand-written notes seem to be far less matter-of-fact, and far more from the heart. I think I might return too to writing letters on paper I have made, and include pressed flowers or herbs from the garden too.

I opened another box. It was full of arch lever folders brimming with sorted and dated newspaper clippings, mostly from The Age in Melbourne. The 1986 folder had huge section about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which happened on 26 April 1986 - my dad’s birthday.  This event had an immense impact on me and mobilized me as a youth activist. I joined anti-nuclear movements, peace rallies, and the United Nations Youth Association. 

Strangely I have no recollection of making these folders filled with stories about native forest logging, about social injustices, about wars and social unrest, about the nuclear industry, about impacts of industrial faming on the land. But, as I flicked through them I remembered that even back in year 11 and 12, I was deeply moved by the environmental and social crises of the time, and that my exploration of these has significantly shaped me and the choices I have made throughout my life. It has led me to permaculture - a positive way of working towards a sustainable future. 

What do I do with these folders?  Everything is on google now - who needs collated articles from 1986? Compost?

I opened another box, but could not attempt sorting it today. It is full of photos and slides. It struck me that now, even though I take so many photos, I rarely print any. I recently realised the vulnerability of this when my laptop had a watery accident with a toddler. 

The decluttering continues, and it feels good!!

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