I'm a great ripper. It's the only way I can keep the house marginally tidy, truth be told, given how hungry my magazine habit always is. There are few periodicals I actually keep the whole copies of anymore. That honor is mostly reserved for Interweave Knits, whose patterns I frequently flip through in search of inspiration, and Martha Stewart's Everday Food, which has just so many dang good recipes that it seems a shame to not keep them together in such a cute little package. Now and again I'll hang on to a whole copy of Cooking Light that seems especially useful. Everything else--and, Hearst help me--there's a lot of everything elses--gets ripped up and recycled. I tear out anything that strikes me--quotes, designs, whole articles, recipes, story ideas to rip off. I've got a whole magpie thing going.
Here's the problem--while I'm very good at getting the bulk of the mags out of the house, I suck at organizing the clippings into some sort of useful system. They usually all end up piled around the computer, ripe for molestation by toddler hands or clumsy cats. And so the ripped up sheets get scattered around the house. When I find them, I just stuff them someplace so that I don't have to keep picking them up. In a kitchen drawer, sometimes. In my bag, mostly, or in my filing cabinet. Sometimes they flutter behind furniture. Sometimes I'll tuck a couple in my nightstand or between two of the many books on the bookshelf. There's no reason to where things end up. This is one bit of entropy that I don't fight.
(An aside--my email suffers similarly. I keep things that amuse me in folders that I forget I have until I'm looking for something else.)
My secret admission is that I find this non-system karmically satisfying. I never quite know when I'll stumble upon a great recipe for caramel corn or a profile of Neil Gaiman or a poem by Julia Kasdorf. On occasion, I find fortune cookie fortunes jammed in my wallet or the business card of the best London cabbie will fall out of my bag. I'd like to say that these discoveries always come at cosmically valuable times, but, generally, they don't. I've never found a helpful sheaf of clips about grief when I was grieving. I've never happened upon tips about scrubbing hardwood floors just when I was about to scrub hardwood floors. My discoveries are rarely that useful.
Instead they are like purloined postcards to some future self that show me images of what I was then. Not that I'm wildly different, mind, just that some of the details have shifted. What struck me then doesn't always strike me now and I wonder what the heck I was thinking when I saved it in the first place. Or that it still strikes me. Or that it strikes me differently. Or that it is something that I was completely delusional to have saved in the first place, like, say, one of Martha Stewart's more, ahem, ambitious craft projects. I mean, who the heck has that kind of time?
The whole blog thing is like that, only more so. I don't even have to bother with physical items anymore, just links and quotes, left like wee treasures to trip over later. And, so, these two tidbits, left here, for discovery.
From this month's Yoga Journal:
Anne Cushman's column about upekkha, the Buddhist ideal of equanimity (sorta), hits some chord.
I once called up my sister--a fellow writer--in a funk because I'd spent three months working on a novel that I suddenly realized was going nowhere. "I feel like all this effort has been wasted," I sighed. "Well, in the end, everything's wasted," she told me. "Or nothing is. It just depends on how you look at it."
But it's through such small moments that we train our capacity for letting go--and begin to come to terms with the fact that in the end, we can't control anything but the intention we bring to our actions.
This is not a particularly cuddly insight. It's not comforting like a warm blanket; it feels more like a free fall off of a cliff. But when we open up to the terrifying truth that we can't manipulate much of any experience worth having, we also open up to the incredible beauty and preciousness of every fragile, uncontrollable moment. All of our fantasized security is revealed to be an illusion, but in the midst of the free fall into emptiness, it's possible to be at peace.