It All Comes Down To Paper Clips

Our barn caught on fire ; a lot of the content was destroyed. Now we are heaving out piles of things that are melted, charred or torched. If they were just material items, this would be so very simple.

But many of these items are more than just “things”. The toy box held our son’s laughter as a child; the pine table was the place we joined everyone together over dinner; the golf clubs were the promise of a future hobby; the Christmas tree and lights were all the holidays we have shared together as a family; saddles, bridle and tack were remnants of summer days spent riding dusty back roads.

But fire is not sentimental and it ravaged all those memories and promises. Heaving everything into a huge pile, we now toss out all the debris that linked us to the past and hinders us from moving on.

Then, like a fever, this urge to cleanse has permeated all the physical and psychological corners of our lives. Suddenly, closets and shelves are divested of clutter that has piled up over the last 30 years. Even books, my particular sacred cow, are no longer safe from scrutiny. Clothes, shoes, knicknacks, items gifted and re-gifted, ancient decorations,  souvenirs of distant places  – all once treasured and now relegated to dark, dusty recesses – are headed for the dumpster.

In fact, it’s getting to the point that if my husband stops moving for very long, I might decide he is scrap and heave him onto the pile.

Reports, background references, articles, research – my filing cabinets have been filled to capacity with paper that has not been touched in years. But today most of their hanging folders swing empty, because three bins of documents went out, along with all of the hours and hours of work that went into their preparation or review. Those projects, that work  – is Done. Gone. Finished. Letting go of that paper was like letting go of the the past.

Somehow, subconsciously it seemed that if I held onto the material things of the past, I could hold onto all of the good memories and emotions that went along with them. Perhaps even retain my youth, my son as a wee child, my dreams for the future.

But it wasn’t true. My memories are an intrinsic part of who I am today. I am not the clutter, junk and files that clog up my house; I am the result of my experiences. I can throw out the material representations of my past; but I will forever retain the accumulated essence of all that I have become.

As file after file hit the recycling bin I found myself salvaging large, black, fold-back clips. Out of all the things I kept, from all the hours of research and days of writing final reports – all tedious tomes of recommendations and observations – the only items that seemed worthwhile keeping were the paper clips. 

Research, reports and recommendations stale date very quickly. Paper clips on the other hand, are useful forever.


About Lady Boomer

A voice for lady boomers, Bette Hodgins is a writer, life enthusiast and navel-gazer. Unfortunately navel lint keeps cluttering up her path to enlightenment, but she is nothing if not persistent in her journey of life!
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6 Responses to It All Comes Down To Paper Clips

  1. As I sit surrounded by an avalanche of paper, I admire your courage. I have half a mind to photograph the “stuff” for my memory. What a relief you must feel at this cleansing. I think you are embarking on something important. Happy sailing.

  2. Lady Boomer says:

    Thanks Mary. Last year I knew in my gut that 2011 was going to be a transition year….little did I realize it was destined to become THAT MUCH of a transition!! But it has nothing to do with courage (thanks for the compliment anyways!!)….if we hadn’t had the fire, we would never have launched into this purging. It literally took a “spark” to ignite us to action!!

  3. barb says:

    We must be sisters, cause I save the same kind of paper clips!

  4. Hi Bette. It was nice to meet you yesterday. My family lost a cottage to a fire so I sort of know what it’s like to lose all those memories. The original cottage belonged to my great grandmother and was full of memorabilia, some dating from before the second world war. At one time I really regretting the loss of her knick knacks and books — ancient books-of-the-month and mysteries… Instead we have the memories of what she was like, a fierce little Scottish lady who overcame a lot of hardships with a smile. Take care — Maaja

    • Lady Boomer says:

      Thanks Maaja. I have come to realize how right you are about the value of memories over knick kacks. Memories are with us forever – and best of all, we don’t have to dust them! (Not that dusting has ever been a big item in my life anyways!!). See you at a future brekkie!

  5. Jenny li says:

    Sorry to hear the damages due to fire.
    Hope nobody got hurt.

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