It is spring! My absolutely hands-down, stunningly beautiful favourite time of the year. The tax return is done, we are coming out of hibernation, and humanity (at least in my part of the world) can begin to feel our toes again after the numbing pain of winter. The earth begins to warm, the birds are chirping a little more loudly, and people are smiling as they walk down the street (yes, actually smiling – or at least I think I see a little twitch in their faces). Nature has grabbed us by the hand and is saying, “Let’s go out to play!”.
Spring is synonymous with cleansing and cleaning. We find the energy to toss out what no longer serves us, and inspired by the new growth we see in our environment, we also want to begin again.
So I was recently clearing out my desk at home, and I cannot begin to tell you how satisfying it is to… well… rip up the carp that had accumulated there. (Note: I deliberately used ‘carp’ instead of that other word because this is a clean, safe blog, and I don’t want to swear, but I think you know what word I really mean, yes?)
For whatever reason, unlike my usually well-organised self, over the course of three years I had kept a small mountain of papers I had gradually printed out at work. These were things which I thought were worthwhile and valuable enough to store forever at home. They consisted of important work performance reviews, amusing emails from colleagues (destined for my ‘funnies folder’ collection), positive feedback about my work (a definite keep), and other bits and pieces.
The most interesting aspect of my collection were the articles I had printed out about positive mental health, exercise routines for the desk-bound, food/recipes (lunchtime readings, thank you very much), how to change poor office morale, the benefits of pets, psychological topics, and so on. Clearly, there was a pattern here that was evidence of my gradual degradation after years of being in a challenging work culture. These articles were my little way of fighting back against toxic people and places.
Among these articles were my emails, showing how hard I had worked, updating superiors about my projects, collaborating with colleagues, being ever and always diligent, courteous, and articulate. No spelling mistakes, no rushed salutations, always a polite ‘kind regards’ to close emails which I can remember carefully crafting. I was always the good worker, completing everything in an orderly, professional manner. As I re-read these emails I felt like someone who was having an out-of-body experience. I re-lived those moments and exchanges. I remembered every project. I remembered every person who corresponded with me.
I felt proud of my achievements then, and I am grateful for those excellent skills that I still carry with me, but I also felt a mixture of sadness as, in the end, those pieces of paper really did not come to mean anything at all. Every paper which provided an official or ‘urgent’ corporate update, or every ‘important’ communiqué from the insanely highly paid person undersigning it was – in my hands now in another time and place – just irrelevant and sad. Sad pieces of paper that meant nothing to me anymore. Now I was tearing them up and feeding them into the shredder, all set to the music of a satisfying rhythm: rip-freedom, rip-freedom, rip-freedom, etc.
The reality was that we, in that office world, were just keeping the machines of bureaucracy churning, while trying to be of service to real human beings. We all knew that our souls were actually dying inside, but we were just there to get our pay. We all actually wanted to run away and join the circus, play on the beach, take a holiday, listen to music, or whatever – as far away from said office as possible.
When I finally came to the bottom of my pile, I discovered something that revealed what truly matters to me, and I think, many of us. It wasn’t an unknown bonus payslip, nor was it a long lost letter from a dear friend, nor a plane ticket to an exotic destination (although all of these things would have been most welcome!). It was instead a few items which, to others where I worked, may not have meant anything at all.
I rediscovered a large notebook which was covered in a cloth design of various beautiful flowers and birds, all staring at me with their beady eyes. When I opened the first page I had written ‘An Occasional Journal’ in colourful markers, but the entire book was blank. I recalled that I had wanted to take up handwriting in a journal again – as I did as a child and youth – to stimulate my creative writing and to document my dreams away from a computer screen. But of course, I never ‘got around to it’. So there it was at the very bottom of the carp pile, pages as clean and crisp as ever. An invitation perhaps?
Other items at the very bottom were pictures of St Dymphna, the patron saint of those suffering from mental illness, other religious items, a baby notepad with my random ideas and thoughts, and a newsletter headlined ‘A Call to Prayer’. So I had come full circle, it seemed. It had all started and ended with God.
Years ago I had prayed for work which led me to the job where I had printed out all of that stuff. I prayed for God to help me cope in that same place, and again when I walked out that door. Now, in front of a shredder and facing springtime, I am once again wondering what my dreams truly are and what I am meant to do and be next. I had to get rid of the paper carp to find what truly matters in life – Christ, and His call to prayer and Truth.
Don’t let a pile of carp stop you from finding His Truth.
If you have outgrown it, don’t feel anything for it, or have detached from it, move on – no matter what your it is or was. Get to the bottom of your ‘paper mountain’ and toss out anything that does not truly matter to your heart, or which gives you the kind of happiness and freedom you will never want to shred.
Image Credit: pixabay.com