At 22 years old, soon to be released from college, I find myself determined to simplify my life. This means giving away, throwing away and somehow or other disposing of anything and everything I can live without.
There are two developing piles on the floor of my room. Basically, my life is being divided into an “old” and “new” me. The former will be discarded in a variety of ways. The latter will be stowed away in plastic totes. It should be the definition of chaos.
Yet here in the nostalgic wreck of my bedroom, I find unprecedented peace. Many of the items scattered around my childhood home are easy to categorize. Pens embossed with the names of businesses unheard of, books I have never read and have no intention of reading, baseball cards I once collected so religiously, notepads upon which I had scribbled illegible ideas for the next bestselling paperback to grace the New York Times — all these things and more find their way into the corner of my room that seems to define the “old” me.
Some objects pose a bit of a challenge to my sentimentality. In many cases, to discard a certain object is the equivalent of Esau forfeiting his inheritance for a bowl of stew. One such artifact is my grandmother’s ceramic duck — an item she had treasured faithfully until the end. How that ugly thing ever ended up on my dresser, I’ll never know. Still, it represents the “old” me.
Another challenge is my vintage record player, purchased for $1 at a yard sale when I was 10 years old. I loved vinyl albums as a preteen. Many happy hours were devoted to indulgence in Mozart or one of the other symphonic greats. A period of intense pop appreciation came and went as well, and much of my puerile allowance was spent supporting the likes of Michael Jackson, A-Ha, and other popular bands who topped the music world during one decade or another. This record player is one of a kind. It also weighs 35 pounds and defies the very nature of portability. So, 12 years later, even this sentimentally irreplaceable object ends up in the “old” pile.
My nostalgic adventure does not end here. I discover other artifacts that I value nearly on the level of my own life. There are practical items like my first computer: five-and-a-half years old, but containing many, if not all the thoughts and secrets of my psychological existence. Items like this lie scattered around the section of bedroom dedicated to the “new” me.
I discover a penknife my father entrusted to me at the age of 8. The blade is now broken, but still useful. The scissors lost their elasticity years ago and have to be manually opened and closed between forefinger and thumb.
My “world’s best editor-in-chief” mug, the keychain I used to hold my first set of car keys, my Bible — for whatever reason these items, among others, find themselves destined for the plastic totes. Throughout this introspective journey, I find myself overwhelmed with a peace that can only described as a transcendent calm in the eye of a hurricane with a well-known, dreaded and rightfully feared name: transition. The inevitable divide wherein the “old” becomes the “new” or is lost forever.
But in this stormy soon-to-be wasteland of what should be emotional turbidity, I find peace. After all, what is peace if not a temporary, fleeting calm? In many ways, the very definition of peace is that of quiet reflection amid levels of oscillating activity. Graduation is near. The leaves on the trees rustle in premonition of the storm to come. Yet I find myself here, in the eye of the hurricane, where there is quiet. Goodbye to the “old.” Hello to the “new.”
For now, I welcome the peace that is transition.