It’s less than 24 hours before I leave my apartment for a week and suddenly the mess of notes and scribbles on my whiteboard seem like the most pressing thing. I look at the notes that I know at one point I was convinced would turn into the most poetically charming blog post. I type them into my broken words graveyard. I’ll dig them out eventually.
I erase the list of restaurants that at one point I thought would be fun to try. It’s hard to read what a third of them say and the others bring no immediate reaction to me. I’m sure I’ll remember someday. I swipe my eraser across the single pharmacy item in the bottom corner. Why that hasn’t been taken care of is beyond, and on, me.
Then, I see a pretty important note about The Smile Project. For six months now, I’ve been erasing and rewriting it every time I do a whiteboard reset. (Finally) recognizing that this should take up more space than a scribbled corner, I type it into one of my working Smile Google docs, satisfied with the solution I have found. Until—
As I go back to my “about-to-leave-for-a-week” scramble, I realize that the phrase has lost all meaning. I actually, genuinely, sincerely have no idea what the numbers mean. I know what it’s in reference to, of course. I know it’s important enough to keep writing and rewriting. But for the life of me, I’m stuck on how I’m supposed to use this seemingly critical information.
It sounds like this post might be headed in the direction of, “make sure you come up with systems that work for you and stay organized!” And while that’s generally fine and encouraged, that’s actually not what I sat down to write.
What I realized, as I erased and rewrote for the 16th time, is that it no longer had any meaning to me. The act of erasing and rewriting was a thoughtless ritual. I’d been doing it so long that I couldn’t remember why I wrote it in the first place. Couldn’t remember what I felt back in June when I first jotted it down. It meant nothing.
What else is meaningless? And I don’t mean that in a nihilistic way. I simply mean what else have we been going through the motions on for so long that we’ve forgotten its true purpose? What else are we erasing and rewriting over and over again like it means something… like we’ll do something with it… like it matters?
If it matters, absolutely let’s address it immediately and take care of it. If it doesn't, and I mean really, truly if it doesn’t—if it doesn’t and you’re just holding onto the comfort of erase, rewrite, erase, rewrite—let it go. We don’t need to hold onto traditions that hold us back. We can let go of patterns and routines that aren’t serving us. And in doing so, we can create more space for the things that do matter.