Making Space

I read (somewhere fairly reliable) recently that once we are out of our teens and into our young adulthood, it’s necessary to forget one thing in order to make room for another.  The memory bank is apparently real enough to operate a bit like a warehouse or just like your clothes closet–before you can add something you have to make some space for it by letting some other thoughts go.

Making space in your head for new learning involves as much planning as you want it to, or none at all.   As with shoes that no longer fit or look stupid with your favorite outfits, fabric in colors you hate, or a table you keep banging your hip on, you can suddenly cast the clutter out and not look back.  Last weekend, over the Thanksgiving holiday, I gave in to the impulse to discard a lot of old clothing I knew I would never wear.  It’s gone now, banished from my closet.  And from my memory; oddly, I don’t remember exactly what I threw away.  I don’t miss it.

So it is with  your old thoughts and ideas and feelings and the other stuff that clutters your mind.  Once you have determined that you don’t need it it anymore–it doesn’t look good on you, feel good when you take it out and try it on for size again, or it no longer fits–you just say good-bye and let it go.

As you no doubt know; here comes the new year right around the corner.  How about–instead of resolutions–making a list of what old ideas, beliefs, commitments, and aggravations you are willing to part with and affirmatively pack up and discard, in favor of opening your mind and your heart to new ideas, insights, and maybe even motives or goals?

The first time I moved far from my native Pittsburgh to take a great job in Kansas, a move that changed my life in more ways than the obvious one, I got into the habit of identifying the old me and the new me.  Before opening my mouth in a meeting, or buying a piece of furniture for my Kansas house, I consciously made certain that it was not force of habit driving my words or decisions.

The old me accidentally joined a gym, but the new me bought Rollerblades–Kansas is flat, after all, and skating was more fun than step aerobics.

The old me tended toward absolutes but the new me asked more questions.

The old me thought golf was boring and difficult; the new me liked the people I met who were willing to teach me to play, though I would never be good at anything requiring hand-eye coordination.

If you don’t want to make a list, just alert yourself when you come to an intersection–does the old you want to make room for just one new thing? You can spontaneously let the new thing in and you might not realize what just discarded itself. . . .

Just a thought.

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