Talking Story

cleaning out the basementMost creative types think of spring as a time of renewal. Stores burst with bunnies and chicks, nurseries fling open their doors to reveal shelves of fresh and tender garden starts, the sun warms up, and green things begin to grow.

Those with more left-brained leanings set their internal timepieces to a calendar. January 1st marks the beginning of a new year and resolutions about diet, exercise, and sleep. Back in the days before smart phones and apps, on the first day of the year I’d spend an hour or two setting up my new planner: establishing goals, lining up tabs, adding birthdays, and copying addresses from dogeared pages onto crisp new ones.

But now my planner’s electronic with no need to hand-write and transfer notes or to even check-off activities. Calendar events like birthdays auto-magically roll on year after year; addresses stay firmly in the database. There’s never a reason to rush to a stationary store (do they still exist?) to buy new inserts, much to Franklin-Covey’s dismay.

Unmoored from left- or right-brained conventions, I tried to go back to the rhythms of youth where the year always starts in September, ends in June, and the summer stretches forever in a lassitude of books, TV, and summer camp.

It didn’t work.

But now, deep in fall foliage with snow sweeping down mountain ridges, traveling across the valley to beat fluffy flakes against my office window, I sense the stirrings of renewal.

Maybe it was finally packing up some of the basement junk horded in precarious piles—the eighteen-year old baby swing, car seats, dusty luggage sets, boxes of books.

Oh, good grief, the books. I think my recent donations to the local library doubled its collection, all hardback, mostly bestsellers, and only read once. There are still seven more boxes to sort through downstairs and three in the garage ready to go to the library.

Nobody needs that many books.

Cleaning out the basement means shining a light in dark corners, sweeping away cobwebs, wondering why in the world I thought I would ever use a burned out crockpot again or needed five rolls of quilt batting or faded Valentine decorations well past their prime.

Once I started organizing, rearranging, examining what I thought so important, I began to realize that all these things kept for an uncertain someday are really chains weighing me down. Lighter, freer, there are so many more possibilities, like a new basement office and audio studio, cupboards and counters for mailing signed books. Space enough to dream new adventures, to think about the time when the house is further wrapped in snow and silence, to take that long winter’s nap.

There is something odd, but comforting in the notion that while most of the world thinks of late October as a time of gathering in, retreating, and hunkering down, I think of blooming possibilities.

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