I grew up in a family with certain ways of doing things. You go to church on Sundays. You don’t write in books. I was amazed to discover that some people consider marginalia an art form rather than an excuse to bring back the death penalty.
The list goes on and on. I’m sure it’s this way for most of us. These rules can get under our skin, become the unquestioning way we do things, whether or not they serve us well.
Back in the early 90’s, I read The Artist’s Way and started keeping a journal. And I really do mean ‘keeping’. I now have an entire collection of vintage suitcases filled with the things. Because one of the rules I live by is that you save journals for posterity. Because posterity gives a crap.
I’m trying to keep the amount of stuff in my life within reasonable limits (you never know when opportunity will come knocking and it will be time to move again) and reckoned it was about time to start digitizing my journals. I thought I’d type them up and pulp the actual physical paper ones or use them as background on my cards. Make art out of my life. Get it?
But here’s the thing. Most of what I wrote back then? Drivel. I was in my early 30’s, had experienced something and mistook it for everything.
I don’t want to digitize my journals. I just want to pulp them. I’m a little too careful not to give them a good read through. And there might be the occasional insight I’ll want to save, but really? I think it’s time to let them go.
And this breaks a huge rule of mine. The one about posterity giving a crap. I suspect that when I start tearing up those sheets and feeding them into my blender, I’ll feel the same as I did the first time I slept till noon on a Sunday. Naughty, gleeful and just a little nervous. There may even be a moment or two of regret for what once was and is no more, but the freedom gained will be well worth it.
This isn’t really about whether or not you should hang onto things. That’s for you to decide. And I would never dare try to tell you what spiritual practices you should adopt or discard.
It’s about questioning our unquestioned assumptions, the ones we pick up as we pass through life, the way we collect burrs as we walk through a field. Unknowingly, without our permission. It’s good once in awhile to look at those assumptions, those rules for living and ask if they really work.
I’ll report back as I progress through this, but how about you? Can you think of any rules that you might like to break?