For as much as I need order and organization, I need prettiness, colors, brightness and boldness too. Perfectly lined plastic boxes, hanging file folders and plain manilla files will never do. They are too ordinary, too boring and remind me of those plastic stow away containers that line the shelves of drug stores.
The process of straightening out old files and throwing away what is no longer useful is tedious. It seems like there is such a better use of time. I could be writing, drawing or photographing something. But I know order is a necessity. For without it I would not be able to gather my thoughts, work and function in a mess.
Once I get started sorting, tossing and refiling on what I call a reset day, I get into a rhythmic flow. I am lost in the pages. The feel of the paper, the reminders of old things and sometimes I grow quite nostalgic. And in those moments it is hard to throw pieces away. So I pick up scissors and cut. While the original document, picture,or creation no longer serves a purpose, I still like it. While I want to keep it, I am willing to let parts of it go.
For once I am in this zone of really noticing things. In taking time to leaf through pages, colors, shapes, letters and words pop out and catch my attention. This process of organization that is so time consuming and potentially monotonous turns into this exploration of not only old things but of where my mind is willing to go. Old bills, expired memberships, magazine clippings I saved, coupons I never used now become the tools with which I create. I only need scissors, and if I make a mistake who cares, these items would otherwise go through a paper shredder.
I cut away the pieces, not only for practical reasons, but to create. I create shapes which I can then paste to the outside of plain boxes and manilla folders so they are pretty storage units, not just plain square boxes. They turn into time capsules I can look at and see remnants of the past before I look inside and see where I am now and where I am going.
In this process of cutting and reforming, I see my life as it was, as it is and as it will be. I don’t know where it is going, but it is comforting to create this order. It not only organizes the space but it clears my mind. And with this day to reset, I can set an intention. What is it that I want to change, where will I go, how will I get there? These are all things I have time to consider as I cut away, find shapes, add colors and watch my past and future grow into this piecework decoupage that decorates these boxes and files that would just be plain otherwise, and remind me of the monotonous project of creating order that sometimes can keep me stuck, keep me from exploring.
Author: Jane CoCo Cowles
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Donna Sutton