Spring, and inspiration from www.uniquemuslimah.wordpress.com has encouraged me to continue the project I started recently, the project of removing clutter from my bedroom, in order to create a serene space. This morning I tackled the three boxes of photographs that have been occupying space at the back of my closet for the past twenty years.
Family photos were easy to sort and keep. Under and overexposures were easy to throw out, but the others…well, those are the ones I was afaid of.
To my surprise, they drew smiles rather than tears. I found photos from trips I’d forgotten I’d taken, friends whose lives made intersections with mine, and places that nurtured me. I found photos of my apartments in Saudi Arabia, photos taken at weddings I attended, photos of me with a former fiance. I was smiling in all those photos, smiling with youth and the happiness of expectation, delight in the present, and discovery of a world I’d always known existed. Those photos I kept.
Interspersed amongst them I found old boarding passes, itineraries, receipts, travel brochures, medical records, greeting cards, newspaper clippings, unsent letters, recipes, and magazines. I threw these items out.
I also found unflattering photos of me during a fat phase, a fatter phase, and a pre-Saudi Arabia phase. Those photos are on hold. I’ll probably throw them out. They do not testify to the person I became, the person I aim to maintain, the person Allah blessed so richly, the person who needs to remember where she came from and where she is going.
Do not imagine, though, that I am so confident. Slippage is a fact of life, and so is imperfection. Self-flogging is easier than doing what needs to be done, and keeping old photos is easier than taking new ones.
However, in the effort to keep creating that serene place, in my bedroom and in my life, I shall be guided by Walt Whitman, who says:
“Discard everything that is an insult to your soul.”