Goodbye to all that

‘Love people and use things. Because the opposite never works.’

It’s never easy.

I’ve been having a clear out. Stuff has gone. Old running shoes, DVDs, things.

I’ve been conscious for a long time that I have too much stuff. In my middle age, I’m well aware that I’ve already had enough of an impact of the limited resources of this world and I’ve been trying to take out less. It’s never easy. I bought two pairs of sunglasses recently, one would have been enough. But it’s progress, and not perfection that counts, surely, and besides I’ll inevitably leave a pair on a table somewhere and someone else will end up with them.

Whole email boxes have been deleted; everything I’ve previously published online has gone. My blog, my podcast, youTube – everything that I’ve worked on over the last few years: gone in a few simple clicks.

And that’s the point, it’s everything that I’ve worked on. It took a friend’s Facebook post to make me realise that what I’ve been working on has been avoiding the real work that I know that I should do: writing.  Should I sit down and write? No, I’ll make a podcast episode. Should I sit down and write? No, I’ll film something, edit, mess about with music, tweak some colours here and there. Should I sit down and write? Yes… but inevitably I don’t. And I don’t because of all of this other stuff. So, it’s gone. I need to write.

I see and hear the world through words. Some people musically hum their way through life, some see everything differently and can recount colours, smells, the taste of a pastry from 30 years ago. I dream in words, not images. I wake with lines inside my head. I see something and immediately have a phrase, often a fragment half-remembered of something I’ve read to go with it. And these words need a more permanent home. Unless I sit down each day and write I fear that middle age will become something else, and those words will be half-remembered phrases of a half-remembered life.

None of this is my idea. A friend’s Facebook post about writing (thanks Adam) and a documentary called Minimalism. I’ve had help. I’ve even recycled the title from Robert Graves’ post WWI autobiography, not because the book was particularly memorable some twenty five years after I read it, but because I’ve always liked the ambiguity and understatement of the title. It’s a perfect title for an autobiography.

But this is not an autobiography. It’s a fragment. It’s simply a line or two about the fact that I’ve got too much stuff, and maybe you have too. Perhaps we all benefit from having a clear-out from time to time. My books stay, my old running shoes have gone. As too has the the endless ‘work’ that I’ve distracted myself with at the expense of what I really need to do: write. Goodbye to all that.

I dropped some things off at a charity shop last week. The stuff was simply taking up time and space and perhaps someone else will get real use or value from it. I hope so. As I left and walked back to my car a line from the minimalist documentary that I watched last year flashed across my consciousness. This one is not half-remembered, and if it’s alright with you, I’m keeping it.

‘Love people and use things. Because the opposite never works.’

4 thoughts on “Goodbye to all that”

  1. Hi Marcus it is only recently that I have realised that those of us working in education are in the enviable position of having the time to have a sort out and create the space to do what they know they really need to do. To do those things that will really bring them joy. With me it’s painting and being creative and it’s only the pressure from a good friend that I have sat myself down in front of paper and paints and done it. Sometimes I paint well and most times it’s frustrating but I’ve started and I’m doing it. It’s so easy to walk the dog, do the laundry, cook, clean, etc but that doesnt really bring me joy and fulfillment. Life is too short to not make good use of the skills you have and you need that space to rediscover them. Hope you felt better for a good sort out… And keep a book and pen by your bed for those flashes of inspiration! Good luck x

    1. Hi Anna. Your are right, we are in an envisage position. It’s a nice problem to have. Life should be about bringing those talents, gifts, interests into the light. Like painting, writing is hard and I’ve been really guilty of being busy as a means of avoiding what I should do while at the same time pretending that I’m being creative.

      Good luck with your painting. You’ll have to let me have a look at some point! X

  2. Very thought provoking as always Marcus. I feel it’s becoming increasingly harder in such a materialistic, conflicted world for individuals to see and focus on what really matters.

    1. Thank you, Jen. Kind words.

      I’ve really tried (am still trying!) to stay focused on what really matters. It’s so difficult for all of us with the constant demands on and for our attention. The last 5 years I’ve learned the value of making the main thing the main thing (certainly with regards to teaching) and I’m really excited that this has led to a new job in September. The time is right to apply that same focus to other areas of my life.

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