Getting a Real Read on Life
Even in this age of the paperless office, with wireless this and Bluetooth that, my desk overflows with paper. Pressed into stacks of pads and notebooks, writing tablets and letters still in unopened envelopes - stacked as if in geological layers - are poems, prayers and pleas, old bills and forgotten invitations never responded to. There are scrap heaps of ideas and “unforgettable” thoughts, confessions and notes of regret I've forgotten to send.
There are thank-you notes for kindnesses I can't recall I did from people I no longer remember. There's an ancient notice to abandon premises from a time when writing didn't generate enough funds to make a timely rent payment.
Sometimes it's the smaller bits of paper that tug at me: A father's two-line note to a 12-year-old son celebrating a prize from his school science fair; a note from a mother, written on a brown lunch bag reminding a high school sophomore to take his lunch to school and pass his geometry test. Failing to do either, as the note says, would put me in line for “dire” consequences. I never did get a full definition of “dire.” Small bits of paper can powerfully remind us of this kind of thing.
These papers are keepsakes. Keepsake – Now there's a word that gets little use today. One can't dispute the value of heirlooms; the very sound of the word connotes inherited treasure. But keepsakes – be it one of those forgotten thank-you notes or parental reminders, hold their value just as long as fond memories remain fond. And, if I don't have space for them on my overloaded desk, I'll just have to go out to some flea market and find one of those ancient storage containers called a filing cabinet and chuck the desk's lot of dear but not-quite-departed documents into it. I will come back to this scrap heap of personal history and reread these things, these little footnotes of personal import, and remind myself of all the small stuff, the recorded incidents and messages that document life in a way that a thought-out, well-penned biography could never do. I'm reading mine now: Sometimes it does get too late to savor the small stuff.