Aren’t new beginnings amazing? New seasons. New chapters. New Years. Even better, sometimes you don’t even know you’re in one until it’s already here.
This year I felt the change. The gentle leaving of 2012 and the soft arrival of 2013. A shift without hard edges. Just the knowing that the old had gone and the new was settling in.
I set my intentions for the year, included my Beauty of Life theme. The decision to be more aware of my surroundings, and to make choices where I can that value appearance and presentation. Not from vanity, but simply because my family and I deserve it.
In a funny way, that led me to finally tackling the mountains of boxes that we have stored in our garage from my business. For years now, we’ve had boxes and boxes filling part of our garage. Without a commitment to cleaning out and appearance I have allowed myself to avoid the annual cleanout for a few years now.
This year, without much thought and without any groan I decided it was time. Time to clean it all out.
Last weekend, in the middle of a heat wave, I stood in my togs and a pair of shorts emptying box after box of old files. Checking each file, in the way that only a lawyer understands, for anything irreplaceable that shouldn’t be there, before placing the contents into a confidential destruction bin. File after file. Box after box. Until I had filled the destruction bins I had on hand, and was surrounded by a mountain of cardboard. The flattened remains of what had been boxes.
I stood there, with the sweat running down my back, going through these files. Some thin and transactional. Creating documents prepared for beginnings or endings. Others just a little bigger being the paperwork creating by the decision to buy or sell property. Then big thick folders, and usually many more than one folder per file. Those folders contained the paperwork created by conflict. By disputes that needed intervention. By Court cases.
While I saw pleadings and notes and submissions and correspondence, somewhere there was a person, a couple or a family who had cried mountains of tears and suffered hours and hours of anxiety and worry. Because of something that was represented by those files.
As I tumbled their paperwork into the destruction bin, I wondered if their tears and worries had also been sent to their emotional destruction bin. Or were they still holding tight to the story that led to the creation of the paperwork.
I hoped that they had let it all go a long time ago. Or at least had found a way to move it from a space that was big enough to store every single piece of their conflict to a much smaller box, perhaps with just a beginning and an end.
Standing there, in the heat, looking at file after file after file created with high energy and probably being almost all consuming at the time. Seeing those files, 8, 9, 10 years or more later. Dusty and dirty, rusting paperclips straining to hold sheets of paper together. Knowing that at my office right now, were clean fresh records of the disputes I am currently involved with. Knowing that regardless of the pain, angst and importance of the outcome for my clients (and for me), it is inevitable that one day those records would be dusty and dirty. Long forgotten.
I hope that I can keep that moment with me. Particularly on those days when I am feeling stressed about what I need to do. My thoughts clogged with worry about the outcome of a conference or Court. Unable to sleep because I’m not sure how best to manage a meeting with a client.
My work is important. I must be prepared and do my best. And one day, it will all be contained in a dirty dusty box, probably to be destroyed by someone who won’t even know their name.
I think I am starting to understand the importance of what I had thought to be a cliche.
As I stood surrounded by cardboard, I had a choice. The hoarder in me wanted to keep the good boxes (scarcity, anyone!). I talked to my hoarder about how my spirit needs clean, clutter free and beautiful spaces. So does my family needs that.
Instead, I packed our people mover (yes – we’re THAT cool) to the brim with the empty boxes.
Drove to our local recycling centre.
And drove home with this.
In the past, I would have left that sort of job for someone else to do. I’m so glad I did it. I think I learned a great perspective about my work. After a few
hundred more days like that I’ll be able to look into a box free garage and know that I did that.
So here’s to cleaning out the past, and allowing space for the future.
Do you have any ‘past’ that could be cleaned out? Ready to be looked at for one last time, before letting it go. Forever. Go for it! I bet you’ll feel great on the other side!