Yesterday I shared a story of disappearing ink on an envelope I had addressed, as well as the reminder of the difference between temporary and indelible ink. I recently experienced another personal example.
I cleaned a couple closets. It didn’t seem like a pressing need, because I keep fairly organized, but I wanted to make a few things more accessible. When I came across a few tubs of photos and a basket of greeting cards, I decided to spend the time going through them. I’ve done a lot of sorting and purging in the past half dozen years. I moved a little over six years ago. Or to be more accurate, I moved as a we: I was still married. There was more stuff. We had lived in the same house for twenty-plus years. Our daughters hadn’t been out of the house long at that point, so some of their things moved with us. But I sorted most things fairly well. Photos were a bit of a gray area. Recent photos were digital. But there was an older bunch I was scanning as needed. My photo tubs had gone through many rummaging sessions, and I hadn’t taken the time to put them back in the categories I wanted. Getting ready to move wasn’t the time to do so, and I delayed the process. I went through a bunch of cards, but there were some that were in bundles that I kept. I’d go through them someday.
Within a few months of moving, I found myself moving again. I didn’t want the old house we’d just bought, and he didn’t want to the old marriage. I needed to get out of the volatile environment quickly. It helped that I had recently organized, but I still had to sort through what was important to take with me either out of significance or safety and what to leave behind for usefulness or compassion. Once settled into a rental, I did some more sorting, not of the cards but of the photos, as well as some other things. I had already backed up many family photos onto a new hard drive for him, but I packed up printed photographs and other items and left them at his back door when he was at work one day.
When I recently sorted photos again, I didn’t need to get rid of many except duplicates. I primarily sorted them back into easy sections for each daughter to take at some point. But the cards needed more purging. I typically sort as I store, but there were some that simply didn’t need to be stored any longer. Our value of some things change over time.
It was obvious I hadn’t gone through the cards for a while. One of the first ones I picked up to read was from my ex.
The inside pre-printed message read, “Thinking of you and all the good times we’ve shared.” He added to the side “and will ahead.” He continued to write, ending his message with “I will miss you, my best friend and my love” with a smiley face and signature. I knew by the context it was written less than a year before the end of our marriage. I found others that were closer to the end. I was surprised it didn’t upset me. Over the years of healing, such aha moments simply add to the affirmation of it all.
Obviously, that message was not written with indelible ink. I didn’t suspect it at the time. I’ve gotten mixed messages about whether or not he suspected it at the time. That’s not my point of the example. I simply want to reiterate how I wrapped up yesterday’s post:
There are some things we write that perhaps we don’t want set in stone. There are other things we want in indelible ink. It’s important to know the difference. It’s important to know the permanency of what we’re writing. It’s equally as important to know the permanency of what we’re reading. Keep it in the context of long-term viability. What is firm, and what isn’t? What is changeable, and what isn’t? What do we want to be permanent that isn’t, and likewise with what we prefer to be temporary? We often don’t get to decide. And sometimes, we can’t know for sure. But if we’re wise, we’ll at least consider it. Otherwise, we’ll be inflexible and be humbled as we learn we can’t hold everything we want in our hands.