The champion’s gaze softened as he regarded the new world about him, devoid of any feature or distinction. Once, this had been a thriving landscape. But time and chaos had done their work, choking the land’s vital energy, until the approach of the end times could no longer be denied and the champion had acted to sweep everything away. Now, with one word, it could be made anew.
The champion pondered.
“OK … now where DID I put that access code, anyway?”
If my mind seems a little apocalyptic today, my apologies. Setting up a new computer will do that to you. Yes, our machine at Chez Rochat finally began sending signs that its long and faithful service was … well, about to be a lot shorter and less faithful. The Desktop Blues had become a favorite tune, followed by the Desktop Reboot and the Desktop Disk-Checking Screen, so it was clearly time to ring down the curtain and clear the stage.
I can’t really complain. At eight years old, my computer was getting into Willie Nelson and Keith Richards territory. But it did mean that it was time for the ritual intonation that every modern first-world human makes when faced with cleaning out a basement, straightening out a closet, or getting ready to move computer files.
“Holy crap! Where did all this stuff come from?”
I can see a few smiles of agreement out there. Most of us aren’t exactly Marie Kondo, regularly studying every item in our inventory and pondering “Does this give me joy?” If anything, we’re a little closer to John Lennon, where “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Over time, the intentions of the moment fade and sink into mystery until it’s time for the next major archaeological dig.
Sometimes it makes for a neat rediscovery. “Aw, man, I forgot we had these old pictures! Look at Dad’s hair!”
Sometimes it’s cause to think. “Wow, we haven’t played this in years. Think your cousin would want to give it a try?”
And sometimes – probably most times – it’s a much more primal reaction. “We still have this? Huh …” Hopefully not followed by an immediate rush for some bleach.
The cleanup that follows is often painful (especially for folks like me who are a walking vortex of chaos) but generally necessary. And not just with computers and closets.
We carry a lot of stuff inside us that we don’t need, too.
That one’s harder because everything in us has shaped us in some way, and because letting go of a bad piece of the past isn’t as simple as pulling out a Hefty bag. But we all know the bits we don’t need. The ones that don’t leave us with any memories worth keeping or any lessons left to learn – or that even lead us down false trails and cause continuing harm as they weigh us down.
Our stories keep bringing this back to us. Like Yoda warning Luke Skywalker that the only dangers he’ll face in his next test are the ones he brings with him. Or Frodo and Sam on the brink of Mount Doom, casting off most of their gear – including some things they love but no longer need – so that they can endure the last punishing run of their quest.
You don’t have to be joyless or ascetic. Just aware of what’s really important to you, and ready to shed something that’s become a burden.
It’s not easy. It may require a lot of help. But it’s worth it, every single time. Especially when it helps keep you out of the blues.
Or even the blue screens.