Thursday, June 18, 2015

Letting Go

I just noticed that there are 45,053 messages in my computer's "In" box, dating back some eight years! And these are just the messages I kept. It doesn't count the 37,875 messages I've sent and kept! Dear Lord, that's ridiculous! I've got to get rid of them...or at least clear them out. And I've tried. Really. I must have deleted several hundred. Why so few? Because I have to read them to know whether to keep or delete them. And despite my culling, I still have 82,978 individual messages to go.

"Okay, why not just dump them all?" you may well and logically ask.

Because I can't, that's why. I tell myself that it's because I know that ten seconds after doing so I will remember something I desperately need from one of them. But I know that's not the real reason. The real reason is that once I hit "delete" they will be gone forever and a part of me will be gone with them.

Bil (that's the way he spelled it) and Susie Evans and Skip McHam, and my beloved "Uncle Bob," dear friends whose words...whose essence...are caught forever in our exchanges. To delete their messages from my "in" box is in effect to delete them, and I simply cannot bring myself to do that. And, of course, to delete those messages in my "Sent" file is to delete my own words and therefore much of myself. The inherent now of these messages--the knowledge that every single word was created in a now as real as the now in which I watch each word appear as I type it here; created by vibrant, living people in the process of inhaling and exhaling and thinking and planning and dreaming—holds me in an unbreakable grip.

I'm fully aware that, in many ways...the one being discussed now, for example...I am not like other people. I've worked very hard all my life not to be. And I know that, to other people (though I would hope not to you) I often seem strange, or silly, or immature. I plead guilty on all charges. And the problem with that is...?

I've talked before about my inability to let go of the past and I really do realize the downside of it. I know that after I am gone, none of this will mean anything to anyone, and that I must drag the full weight of the past with me wherever I go, whatever I do. This morning, I noticed that the mesh fabric covering the underside of my favorite chair, which I bought when I moved into my first house in Los Angeles in 1968 and have had reupholstered at least once, has been torn and is hanging down. My cat, Spirit's, handiwork no doubt. And in lifting the chair to look underneath, I see that one of its legs is loose. Logic, reality, and rationality clearly dictate to throw it out; that to have it re-upholstered again would cost more than just buying a new chair. But I shall look for a re-upholsterer. ("But it won't be the same chair," even parts of my own brain readily acknowledge. To which other parts of my brain reply, "Yes, it will. In my heart." Just as my aging flesh is not the real me, a tattered covering is not the chair. And I am not responsible for what others may think. To be honest, it doesn't matter.

I suspect part of my reluctance to let go of things...which is to say, to let go of the because I do not believe in an afterlife. I firmly believe, as I've stated so often, that when one dies, one simply reverts to the same state of non-existence from which one emerged at birth. So therefore, all I have of eternity is the very very brief lifetime allotted me, and I am loath to relinquish a moment of it into the non-existence already surrounding me.

And on rereading this, I see I have once again perhaps told you more than you really wanted to know, and that my insistence on detailing the entrails of my psyche might be considered "unseemly" or embarrassing. But, again "once again," if you might find something within these ramblings that you might recognize...though never have given voice to...within yourself, I consider it well worth it.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

I went through my e-mail after my mentor passed away last year, and I put all the e-mails I had from him in a folder, plus my responses. They're a snapshot in time, a reminder of how he said things as opposed to how I might remember he said them. I do that with a few folks. The thing is, when I receive or send something I want to save, I immediately put it in its designated folder so that I don't have 80k messages to sort through. =)

Unlike you, though, I do believe in an afterlife. I just hope they've found a way to import all these e-mails there for when I finally have time to sit down and go back through them. It'll take an eternity!