I’ve just thrown away most of my old notebooks. Strange to think that the photos of marginalia are all I have left of them, though not nearly so strange as how I feel about letting them go. I expected to feel so much more – I mean, I’d kept them for years (some for over a decade) and held them to be especially dear possessions.
But in the end, I went Daenerys on Daario and decided to move on.
After 5 years in Qatar, I have a new job that’s taking me to a country I’ve never been to before. I’ve spent the last 6 weeks getting a headstart on a new language, sorting/packing stuff, and saying farewells. And to avoid the hassles of shipping or finding ways to reclaim things later, I’m giving up anything I can’t fit into two large suitcases, a carry-on case and a laptop bag. It’s always daunting to decide what makes the cut, but after 10+ moves I know I’ve never truly missed anything I’ve let go.
Ownership is a strange beast. The things you own enable you to do things, but they also hold you responsible (for the things themselves, as well as what you do with them). So it’s liberating to have less stuff, yet difficult to disown things. Ownership is both power and burden.
So I realized, going through my notebooks, that I did not want to be owned by them anymore. They’ve been tugging at me, to relearn enough to make sense of old lecture notes or remember the stories behind the marginalia or wonder about people I only remember because their names are scrawled there. But I don’t want to recreate past mental states; I want to give my energy to now and the future. And the most important lessons from the past I carry already, internally.