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Having a clearout is one of those processes that frightens many and is questioned by others. After all, if you are able to function efficiently and happily as you are why do you need to upset the natural order (and the dust) to contradict all those times you’ve scoffed at the ‘tidy desk equals sick mind’ brigade? Speaking as someone who is chronically untidy yet surprisingly organised (ahem) I have to acknowledge that I have always relied heavily on my memory – that’s the bit that is my bail-out; I know what it is, what it looks like and why I should need it even though I can’t immediately find it. But as many will understand, thinking you have a good memory remains strong long after any actual powers that you might have had have waned. Having a good clearout and reappraisal of your stock and resources goes a long way to proving this point.
Breaking down through the crust of antiquity reveals paperwork and items that you immediately recognise (those fantastic powers of memory in action) but which you can’t understand why you kept for a month, let alone two years. However, any belief you may have in a strong memory will be shaken severely by finding multiples of often small yet significant items (often in their original packaging) that suggests that you desperately needed something and couldn’t find the one you knew you had or, more worryingly, that you didn’t remember that you’d actually bought it twice before in the past. That’s wasteful and illogical for someone who might pride themselves on being organised and an interesting interpretation of a noble concept.
We are defined by our possessions -- not in that crass demonstration of wealth and status sort of way but by what we choose to not throw away. An alarming aspect of having a major clearout and sort through is that it opens a window on one’s psyche and reveals something about yourself that is not altogether flattering. There is the hording of cables, interfaces, bodge connectors, and general ‘that could be useful’ stuff, like some demented squirrel preparing for the nightmare gig to end all gigs – interconnectivity between obsolete formats is the big giveaway here. In among the technology detritus are items you’ve kept purely because you remember exactly how much you paid for them and can’t bring yourself to throw out despite the fact that they are now completely useless; digital has always been cruel like that. Recycle.
The rebirth that a good clearout gives releases space, allows surfaces to be seen again, and appeals to that ingrained audio sensibility that wants to believe there is a place for everything. For those sensitive to organisational criticism there is something reassuring about there being nothing hidden and deserving of your attention. Amazingly it also improves your memory.
Zenon Schoepe, Executive Editor