22 July 2013
memories are like a drawer of socks
The fact that I live in a conflict zone and am a feminist activist does not mean that I should only write on political issues. So here's something not political in any way, unless you can politicize socks :)
The drawer has a finality to it. A limited number of socks can be stored in it. Once every few months, I go through the socks. It's a habit I picked up somewhere along the way, without ever being aware of its circularity, or the fact that it has become a habit. Tonight I went out for a run. It's my quiet time with my thoughts. What I love about it is the surprise element. I can plan on a certain idea I'm stuck with in writing, and then go for a run in the hope that it will facilitate the flow of a fresh perspective. Tonight I planned on thinking about the article I started writing last night about the "Politics of Identity." The first half a page free-flowed. Then it got stuck. When the writing resists, I don't force it. Anyway, I'm deviating from the subject. One kilometer into my run, an idea comes rushing at me from the opposite direction. I don't resist. I welcome it, and for the next four kilometers, it keeps me nice company.
Every so often, you do have to get rid of some socks in order to make space for new arrivals. There's no way around it. Unless you're planning never to buy new socks – for the rest of your life. It's the same with memories. The memory drawer – at least my memory drawer – is not infinite in its capacity. Yes, it's spacious enough to contain tens of thousands of memories. But it is still finite in its capacity.
The socks drawer. I have some thirty pairs. Some are way too old, with holes at the big toe, the fabric thinner at the heel. But I don't get rid of them. It's not beauty or perfection that count when I decide which socks to keep and which to discard. It's the feeling, the comfort and familiarity when I wear them. Not perfection. Some socks were bought years ago but are still brand new – worn maybe once or twice. No sentiments here – get rid of them, although they look quite perfect. I love socks. In different colors and different shapes. That's why my sock drawer should always be just about almost full. Full enough to give me enough choices on any given morning, but also have some spare space for new arrivals.
Same thing with memories. Some are imperfect, but I keep them because of their feeling, the comfortable way they fit into and under my skin, and their smooth flow in my blood, and the smile they draw onto my soul. But tonight I realized that I've been hanging on to some memories for no reason. Memories that are only taking up space like the perfectly-new-yet-never-worn socks. Not only they are useless, but they take up precious space, not making room for new memories to arrive and settle down comfortably. So tonight I am revisiting not the drawer of the socks, but a much more important drawer. That of memories. Sifting through, leaving most, but also not being afraid of discarding those that are unwanted. Taking them out with the trash, returning home, and closing the door behind them. This time, for good. Tomorrow morning I will wake up with a roomier drawer, ready to collect new memories.