Life as an Extreme Sport

difficult decluttering

There’s something I’ve been putting off doing for a while now, for no real good reason: cleaning out my bookmarks in Firefox. I had links in there from as far back as early 2007; links for tracking flights for my last boss, blog post data and background research, cover ideas for the journal I was working on at the time.

Being a relatively normal web user, who still finds links worth keeping, I had created a situation where every time I needed to find a link, I had to scroll past the detritus of the past three-odd years. And a lot of that detritus was – is – a painful reminder of all the ways my life went so badly off the rails since late 2006. I often ended up looking away as I scrolled to the bottom of a long list of links, knowing that what I wanted had to be in those last five or ten links. Out of sight, out of mind, literally implemented.

I knew that I had to clean the bookmarks out. I’ve known it for months. I’ve known it for years. But doing that meant having to look at the links; it meant having to evaluate links, having to look at things I haven’t looked at in years. Things that still sting. Reminders of when I glowed so brightly, before it all fell apart.

Intellectually, I can acknowledge that much of what’s happened was outside of my control, but people have separated emotion and intellect for a long time, and for good reason.

The thing is, by not facing the past, accepting the changes, and clearing out the detritus from that time frame, I was keeping it around. Even if I looked away from the bookmarks menu as I scrolled down in an effort to find whatever it was I was looking for, I still saw it – I still knew what I was looking away from. And in some ways, I guess that meant I was letting it control me.

I sat down earlier today, shortly after changing the title of this blog, and I cleared out my bookmarks. I created folders for themes, deleted most of the old folders and links that were there, and put other things away in categories I won’t use right now, but maybe I’ll use again some day. Was it the easiest thing in the world? No. But neither was it as hard, or as tedious, as I thought it would be. Many of the links were dead, and those that weren’t just… were. Yes, they had memories attached, but that’s all they were: memories.

It’s just the first step in the digital cleanup I need to do, both on this blog and on my computer as a whole. And even though it’s data, and the literal weight of the computer doesn’t change, I feel lighter already.