I recently upgraded my phone. It was only two or three years old, but I needed a new plan and so I thought I might as well get a new phone. I had the same sim card for a good many years and I had done the good work on saving all of my contacts on it. I seldom back anything up on my phone and I don't keep a lot of things on there - as you probably know by now, I'm not a keeper of things in general, technology included. If it's enough to alert people to my existence, it's just enough for me.
With the new phone, however, I couldn't use my old sim card. It was a newer, bigger card and so the old one had to be discarded - along with all of my contacts from the last, oh, ten years?
Most people that I know, at this point, would panic. Or, if they were smarter than I am, would have saved their contacts to various other places so as not to lose any information and avert any crisis.
I didn't panic. I was glad for it.
Over the decade or so, I had accumulated an awful lot of contacts in my phone, many of which I simply hadn't used. Mind you, they are all nice people, but they simply aren't part of my day to day. I had periodically erased contacts of people I definitely didn't speak to anymore, or random ones accumulated through networking and such, but I hadn't done a thorough clean up.
I treated this as an opportunity to start afresh. Everyone was gone, more of less, and I don't have much of a memory for phone numbers anymore. I proceeded to put out a call to friends to please send me their numbers. Many did. Many didn't. And the decision was made for me.
There are two kinds of people I have encountered: the ones that keep absolutely everything and everyone and the ones that keep nothing or very little. Neither one of these is right or wrong. I know that new beginnings are terrifying. We are stepping into an unknown mostly full of now-whats. It's overwhelming to think about what you can do with all of that time and space. But the possibilities to remake or build new are endless. You have the chance to rid yourself of constricting ideas that are tightly wound around who you are and what you have.
So much of what we surround ourselves with is remnants of who we were, whether we crave the nostalgia of those things, or whether we still believe ourselves to be those people. We don't often realize that those things are stale, in the same way that an old souvenir bottle of hot sauce in the fridge is kitschy, but offensive at the same time.
We can all benefit from an absolute throw-out of everything. I love clean slates and I start so many new beginnings that it's almost a habit at this point. There are certainly things that we can't wipe out, no matter how much we try - but then again, those things make us who we are.
For me the autumn seems like a good time to both wind down and start anew. No longer in school, I still feel that the year is the most ripe with possibilities at this time, and I do silly things like buy new pens and throw out my summer shoes.
Once we admit it to ourselves, a thorough razing of some aspect of life is a good thing, if for nothing else than to get past the things that take up too much space and are difficult to negotiate with because they end up consuming us with their presence. Though I am a follower of a gentler way of cleaning up, an overhaul can do wonders. This is not an easy task and you often find yourself at odds with yourself. But it's worth asking, why is this still around?
A few of my favourite reads/listens:
The Personality Myth on Invisibilia
On Final Things on The Book of Life
The Four Tools of Discipline on Farnam Street Blog