Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Dao of Cleaning out Closets

This picture was taken after the Poppet Gypsy Wagon had been shaken about by a silly human. It was of course an accident, but the Poppets then had to clean up.

And one of the rules of cleaning up is that sometimes you make a bigger mess first to make things cleaner later.

It is a time to reduce things and to empty things.

When I chose The House. I was a particular kind of person. I am a person who likes to arrange things, but almost all of the things I built were virtual, verbal or flat. I was not a person with small children, my children were exactly Big Enough Not to Worry. I was not a person who needed a big TV room, but I was a person with computers and books, and flat art made on a computer, and occasionally I might make a rug. But rugs always went away as soon as I was finished.

So I chose The House for a number of it's charms and potentials but did not buy it intending to have a sculpter/hacker/crafting mixed media artist, a mechanical engineer and a painter in it.

I didn't realize that I would have to reinvent myself every decade or so. All three of us have large scale work and large pieces. All four of us have paper intensive hobbies and two of us have record intensive professional lives. So I need a real workspace and the office which really had been started with on person playing games and the other person doing multimedia work needed to be restructured - the three artists all have to use technology we need centralized storage and systems to keep track of the peripherals, some of our supplies are outsized now. We are different than we were.

But the office holds things - the legal detrius of life and health and school and career. I'm clearing it out and it's been disorganized for some time. Now things have shaken us up so I'm making a bigger mess to have less mess in the future. I found drawings and stories and (God Help Me) poetry from my high school years - small betrayals of my claim not to be an artist - reinforcement of my position that if I am one, I'm really rather mediocre.

But they are valuable in some ways - they are baselines for ideas I will be developing for school so I won't have to get stuck in the now, I can improve what I started 20+ years ago.

There are things I've finally lived long enough to outlive their legal lives and I can throw them out into the giant shredder. There are things I was going to throw out that I realized I couldn't because they definitively mark some health concerns and therefore might be important later, since some of the members of the House might be special that way.

But one of the interesting things to me is that through 10 different moves in less than 20 years all of my worlds and the people I built in them are still with me - from junior high school through now. And they all have stories, and the stories are not bad to start, but might become better if I worked on them. It is very, very difficult for a multimedia artist to throw away anything because I have proven over the years that I do reuse it, physically and intellectually.

However, that's no excuse for it to be disorganized. If it's going to keep travelling with me, it's going to have to travel tighter and be more easily found.

Dao is a sword in Chinese - it is single edged and slices and chops
DAO is a data access object
dao is also when pronounced slightly differently "way" and "path" and "road" and represents a philosophy.

When you clean out your closets and look at your paper you cannot lie to yourself. You did this, you ignored this, you bought this, you called a lawyer about this. Here is the evidence. Do you hold on or do you shred.

And there is no one answer that holds for all of everything, not if you do it right. You need to deal with each piece honestly. Then you figure out which keeps going with you and what gets left behind until the next time silly humans shake up your wagon and you have to clean out all over again.

Then you'll look at all the pieces that got added from this time, and you'll look back at all the things you saved from before and that will most likely guide your way when you make the next choices.

And you'll shed (or shred) some more and travel on. It's just like that.

Cleaning closets out sometimes gets a little sad. But there will be room for all the chargers and tablets and canvases and photo boxes and cameras and tripods and portfolios.

Travelling on.

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