Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cutting Away The Deadwood

A small sampling of my collected past
It’s a hard and good thing to look at what one has and realize when its time to let things go. To come to that point where you get it, that what you have collected, maybe things you used to enjoy using or owning are somehow keeping you from moving forward.  You can no longer look at them the way you once did because you see them from a completely different perspective.  You see them like anchors that keep you lashed to your past, hindrances that keep you from moving into your future.  If you hold onto them you know you will be held back from growing, from achieving tomorrow’s provision and blessing.  It is a season of surrender, of giving up and letting go of what is familiar to the future you know you are supposed to take hold of.

Class outlines and information I used to glean from and collect.

That is where I am right now.  I am digging through file drawers of paper, looking at every piece, remembering and releasing.  Life is not static and my circumstances and God’s work in providing a new path for my future have called me to let it go and move on.  It feels odd how cathartic this is for me as I wade through things; there is a kind of lightness I feel in my heart, an unburdening from thinking about these things.  My mind not focused on what I “used to use” or thought I would use.  There is a freedom from feeling I have to go in that old direction and from the feeling of failure that I didn't complete some goal. There is also a sweetness in the remembering as I touch pages of my words, pictures of my past.  It’s amazing how much I’d forgotten I’d kept and I found myself in tears more than once.  Sometimes the tears were from happiness, sometimes because it was a little harder than what I thought it would be to let go.  I press on.

A portion of the memorabilia pile...heartwood.
In spite of how I may feel, I know I have to dig out from under yesterday to realize my tomorrow.  I long for new growth more than the familiarity and keeping of the past.  This is why I persevere in the process.  I am not looking to accomplish it all with one giant effort but bit by bit like doing restorative pruning on an old apple tree.  First remove the dead wood, then remove congestion and finally prune for fruiting.

Our Quince tree in its restorative pruning process will produce better fruit for us this year.

It takes time to prune like this, on a tree it takes a few years to bring restoration. For me in this process it will be a few months, maybe even a year before I begin to see that fruit I’m looking for.  I’m thankful for this understanding.  My files of collected information and ideas, class outlines and memorabilia could not have been conquered in one session.  It took two times going through them just to get them down to something that looked to be manageable.

All that stuff boiled to manage this well.
This job will not complete until I have set up my systems to keep myself organized and discipline myself to working this new system so it serves me in the future and doesn't turn into another anchor.  That will be the interesting part. Creating something useful and manageable in light of who I am and how I work.  Its funny how we think we know who we are and how we work and how different that is from reality when we really begin to dig in…that is if we are being truly honest about what we are looking at and dealing with.

I’m a dreamer, I’m a designer, I’m an artist and these collected ideas are like candy to me, fodder for future projects. Some people pack rat stuff, real tangible things like figurines or toys or dishes or cook books…me I love to collect ideas and information.  The challenge…to ask myself why I want to keep any of it and be brutally honest.  I think I’m doing pretty well so far.

I can see my own weaknesses as I go through the piles of files and papers in front of me.  “What was I thinking?  Why did I feel I had to keep this stuff?” I laugh out loud. Granted, there is a lot more online today than there ever was on paper back when I began to file ideas away.  I can already see possible problems that might arise if I'm not careful however I really like things on paper better than digital files; the whole organic nature of it, the feel, the smell and its easier for me to read and edit off of a piece of paper than on my computer.  I “loved” revisiting information and ideas I “collected”, things that inspired me, that fed my creative soul and my inner nerd…emphasis on past tense here is important as that is in part what brought the congestion.  My weaknesses are revealed and I can breath.

The past is what it was and I'm moving on

As I dug through the mountain of my collection one thing that made me laugh was how my tastes in styles have changed.  It really brought home how much I needed to clean out that dead wood.  Another thing was how even that information I had used to teach with had changed too.  It was one of those “looking into a time capsule” moments for me and it hit me like a brick…I’m living in the now, not the then.

The work I did in college, my papers, my weed collection (yes I had a weed collection, they are plants after all), all the notes…those were really difficult to part with because of all I had invested them.  Actually husband was not helping at all here either and wanted me to keep the binder with my vast weed collection as a family heirloom!  With that, I decided it would be the first things to go.  I didn’t want to start calling my work an heirloom as I knew it wasn’t that beautiful.  Thankfully my college papers are digitally filed so no need to keep the hard copies with the teacher's notes…and if something happens to the computer and I lose it all I won’t die, nor will anyone else.  Life goes on.  There are other things I’d rather be remembered for.  I don’t want to be remembered for how smart I am but how I loved and helped to make other’s lives better and for how much I love my Savior.

To stay or go into the future, the choice is yours

Where I thought I was going back then no longer matters, I have to listen to where God is telling me I am going today and I don’t want to live in the time capsule of the past so out it goes.  So far I have recycled nearly one whole 60 gallon roll-cart from my past.  I’m still scratching my head at how out of hand things had gotten and I’m not all that disorganized. I just never went back often enough to prune out old wood, thus the congestion.

Pruning for fruit is where the heart is really dealt with.  We love the memories of the past and what is attached to those memories like the branches of a tree that gave us such lovely fruit in years past.  For myself it was and probably will continue to be anything to do with gardening.  I love learning about plants, I love teaching about plants, I love propagating plants, digging in the soil and the beauty I’ve worked to create.  This is indeed the most difficult of all this pruning process.  These old branches must be pruned though and they will always have a presence in my future but my focus will be more balanced and the struggle for good fruit less difficult as long as this pruning is maintained.

I am ready for that blade to be laid to this branch of my life that is so integrally attached to my heart.  It is the most important part of this process because strikes at the heart of the crossroads in my life.  My letting go or holding on will affect the future.  God has something new for me and I want to go with Him, not lag behind in my past.  I’m not exactly sure what exactly that looks like yet but I know that nothing surrendered, nothing experienced and no mistakes made are ever lost in God’s economy.  He uses all things for good in the lives of His children.  This knowledge has helped me to do this with freedom and without fear.  My heart is filled with expectation and hope instead of fear and anxiety.

Meeting the future with an expectant heart

As I begin to walk into this new future God has for me I will have to look at the heart of why I am choosing to keep something.  If I do chose to keep it I will need to remind myself that at some point in the future, I will need to let it go.  I’m hoping for the discipline to keep the creativity flowing and not bogged down by past notions like I’ve been feeling this past couple of years. Besides, there is only so much information I will ever really use in my lifetime and often these ideas are just that and nothing more.  They hold no tangible use nor intrinsic value and if there are enough of them just end up being that anchor tied around my leg that holds me to the past.  Time to cut the rope and move on with my life.

So its time to get real here.  My tack, at least for this season, is that I don’t keep anything I’m not currently working on until I get a clear view of where I’m to be heading.  One foot in front of the other with care and purpose.  I’ve discovered that collecting good ideas can bury the view of the path one is supposed to be taking causing one to veer off from it or at least muddy it up real good and causing us to not move with the freedom God desires in our lives.  These collections can stall creativity by keeping the mind focused on the collected things instead of allowing free flowing ideas and new creativity.  I cannot count the number if good ideas I threw out when I filled that roll cart...and they were good ideas back when I collected then.  But I don’t want to settle just for good ideas, I want the best ideas, those that God will prosper, those that will bless others and those that will leave the kind of legacy I want to leave behind.  So out with the old and congestion and lay that blade where You must God, I'm ready for my future.

1 comment:

  1.!!! YES! i love the word pic's and TOTALLY hear you. i have kept folders of ideas,etc as well. and i have gone through and purged. difficult, yes. freeing??? YOU BET!

    and now to sound even more silly, i have at times even wanted to throw out dishes, etc. that have reminded me of my past! i have even gotten rid of clothes from certain times, cuz i just needed to, ya know? i digress..

    GREAT POST!!!!!!