Taming the Paper Dragon: Again

I’ve written before about the challenges of dealing with paper clutter in the house. Well, the last several weeks of gloomy-time meant that I’d been letting all the mail pile up again in a big way — aside from those few essential bills I’d pull out and handle as soon as they arrived. So a big project for me this past weekend and the last couple of evenings has been to once again try to tame the paper dragon.

In addition to handling the most immediate paper accumulation from the last couple months, I also emptied out a couple boxes of longer-term paper accumulation. You know, the kinds of paper piles that built up in other busy times during the last year, but then got shoved into a box in some last-minute cleaning frenzy before an anticipated visitor’s arrival.*

And, after this accomplishment, I am now turning my analytic attention to the other main source of paper influx, aside from catalogs.

My overabundance of magazine subscriptions.

Yeah, I know: printed news sources are so passé. It says so right here in this helpful article from eBay** about cutting down the paper clutter in your life. Still, I’m a pre-digital dinosaur, so I have a foolish attachment to printed magazines. Also, now that I have the financial means to freely support publications with my subscription dollars, I kind of like being able to do so. And then on top of the subscriptions are those impulse purchases from when I’m in an airport newsstand or see something cool at Walgreen’s.

magazine-rackBut we all know how the next chapter of this story goes. Magazines come in and I’m too busy to read them, so they get tucked into the magazine basket. Then more magazines keep coming in, and I’m still too busy, so I fall further and further behind — kind of like some graduate seminars I took back in the day. Soon enough, the overflowing decorative basket has been joined by a less-attractive but equally-overflowing plastic basket, which is then joined by a not-very-attractive-at-all (and, thankfully, not-yet-overflowing) fabric bin.

Today I’ve been thinking on and off about why I feel such a strong sense of obligation to read (or, at least, to flip through) all these back issues before I put anything on the recycling pile. Definitely part of it is shame about “wasting” my financial investment. Kind of like that shame and embarrassment that can build up when you pay for a gym membership that never gets used? Only I guess the magazine subscription is sort of like buying an “information membership.” But yeah, it’s embarrassing to have spent the money to have access to these different information channels, only to discard it all without benefitting from my investment.

That phrase “not benefitting” definitely speaks to some of the emotional charge to this equation. So much of my old emotional patterns are around trying to find the right formula to help me overcome my immense and innate deficiencies, trying to fix (or at least conceal) my wrongness. In the immaturity of that neediness, there’s a level of panic about the idea that somewhere in that stack of issues I’m about to toss into the recycling pile, is that one crucial nugget of wisdom that’s the key to the game.

From a place of my soul’s maturity, I can see that panic is unfounded. For the first part, the quest is more about getting unplugged from the game rather than finding a key to stay locked into it. I also have enough trust in Spirit’s workings that I understand that signs can be found everywhere, so if there is something I really need to hear in one of those magazines, it’ll come my way again via TV, workplace conversation, or Facebook feed.

Knowing this has not yet reduced the emotional charge all that much. It gave me enough juice to get rid of everything dated before January 2013, but that was as far as I was able to take it. At least for now.

I have decided to dust off some of my old grad school strategies, which means I’ll be spending my reading time digging into the most recent issues of things, rather than the most outdated ones. I hope that as time passes, I will continue to unwind my emotional entanglements and will become more and more able to let these unread earliest issues go.

* C’mon, I cannot be the only one around here who does the “box it up and shove it in the guest closet” routine. Can I? Bueller?

** I don’t get it either.


Image credit: MezzoSherri’s iPhone

6 thoughts on “Taming the Paper Dragon: Again

  1. I hear you! But hey — if the paper monster weren’t so common, it wouldn’t be so easy for me to find all this advice online about how to defeat it! 😉


  2. Jbspa

    I feel like you have stepped into my mind and can see into the dark shadows. I can make my house look awesome for scheduled guests… But the time and effort it takes is great. And unplanned guests are my nightmare. Each time I have to do a “box-n-go” clean-up because visitors are coming I add to the pile in the guest room 😦 and unfortunately, I never find the time to go through those boxes. the pile of boxes are me feel like I am drowning when i go into that room. i know I should probably just toss them all out… But the thought of some terribly important document that accidentally made its way into there being accodently thrown away causes me to panic. 😦


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