Monday, 16 September 2013

the self-storage principle

I'm in the process of relocating (really not to be advised during a PhD, but life carries on regardless).  As part of this process I'm putting some of my stuff into storage.  This is raising the 'if you can do without this for 6 months, why do you need it at all? type of question, not to mention the 'what the heck is in all the cupboards/spaces behind those brightly coloured doors?  Who is storing stuff here and why? What's going on in those people's lives, that they need to put stuff somewhere and pay for it while they go somewhere else/do something else? type of questions? No doubt those questions have something to do with the fact I'm wrestling with Draft 807 of Chapter 1 of my thesis on quite another subject and welcome any distraction.

I had mini 'light bulb' moment yesterday, when neatly arranging another 3 boxes, two chairs and a tube of posters I just can't seem to send to recycling.  There are some similarities here to the way I'm storing information as part of my doctoral study.   I looked at the 10+ boxes I'd carefully packed and stored two weeks ago and thought - what the hell is in those boxes?!  Then I looked more closely at the cryptic label I'd scribbled on the box and thought, ah, yes....I remember - that box contains the crockery I'm not yet ready to dispose of/the diaries I wasted two hours reading/the photo albums I just don't have the time or energy to digitise. Probably because I'm on draft 807 of my chapter, I'm keenly aware that there's a mass, a partially-digested mass, of information, literature and theory, that my mind is simply too miniscule to keep hold of.  I access it through my (pretty excellent) filing system, or by riffling through the tower of books next to my desk, or by sitting very still and trying to channel that particular author...(not always successful)...

The point I'm trying to make is that it's all there somewhere, a year's effort, even if I've forgotten it's there.  I may not need it now but I might need it later. It's ok to put it in storage. I may never need it, but I don't know yet, so it's ok to put it in storage.  There will no doubt come a time when I collect and sort out my boxes and send half of the contents to recycling/Freecycle/the tip/the bottom of the cupboard.  But the other half I'll unwrap and be surprised and delighted by and know immediately how that particular item (spatula, cushion, DIY manual) fits into my life at that point.  

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