Previously on “The Clearing” as they say…
“Possessions, jobs, activities and, whisper it, even friendships don’t necessarily need to stay with you forever. And when I have the ‘year to live’ talk with people, it happens, I always view going through the clearing of redundant things as the relatively easy conversation before we arrive at the trickier “Having cleared some space then, how will you spend your time? Because with only 365 days to go you might want to think carefully about the activities and people you spend each one of them on?”
Continuing from last time in this light of us all having a limited number of days left in our lives.
As I said then the ‘people and activities’ element of clearing is much trickier than the relatively easier getting rid of things. You might have emotions over things but things don’t feel emotional about you, whereas people do, or might. Which makes clearing some of them tricky.
Best then to start with a fairly easy piece of people clearing, unfriending.
It’s an obvious cliché to say that all of our social media friends aren’t really our friends, but they’re not. Still, having hundreds or even thousands of them lurking around in the part of your life you call Facebook, Twitter or whatever can end up taking a lot of your time. Checking how many of them might ‘like’ something you’ve said or worrying if you yourself have been ‘liking’ enough things lately. Idly flicking through a hundred unedited photos of their latest family do, or car, or holiday, or haircut, or, please no their latest luxury item they’re hoping you haven’t got. It’s like an illness isn’t it? An illness that eats your life. The easiest way to cure it being to clear as many of these people as you can from infecting your timeline (Or, ok, mute them in some way if you’re sensitive about them knowing).
Either way, get your numbers down to people you really know and or whose opinions interest you, I’d say. Years ago I would regularly carry out these mass unfriendings on Facebook to relatively little offence. Most people not noticing as far as I could tell. Especially after I then got rid of Facebook itself to finally expel its river of drivel from my life.
And that’s pretty well enough about social media, before I get bored and have to clear myself. It’s a choice is what I’m principally suggesting, and you’re not obliged to engage in it any more than you want to. Because it’s your time and it’s your life.
So what about real friends, the people you really know? Well the numbers are unlikely to be anything like those Facebook Friends you may have just got rid of but there’s still a limit to the number of them you can truly fit into your life, I suggest. The number of family and friends events you can turn up at, the number of reunions you can bear, the number of lives you can keep track of years after you were really in each other’s lives.
Harsh? Well I don’t mean it to be. True there are some old relationships where you may not meet for years and then they’re instantly renewed as soon as you meet like you’ve never both been away. These are truly precious and you will know them and treasure them. But you are unlikely to have many friendships that deep. Being at school together some time in the last century or even growing up together years ago doesn’t mean your relationship won’t have naturally faded away now. Because friendships do and there’s only so much time you might want to put into get togethers where remembering is the main topic of conversation. Maybe not, but it’s your life and it’s up to you to choose what you do with it.
But then there are ‘obligations’ aren’t there? Where you’ll hear phrases like ‘that’s the way it is’ and ‘we’ve always done it that way.’ Those gentle and not so gentle pressure points in your life to fit in with what a majority or someone dominant is saying you should do. ‘Should dos’ and obligations, eating up your life if you choose to let them.
Because it’s your life and your time and here we are in this, possibly, fictitious year of it left to go, so what are you going to do and not do with it?
Well I would say, because you might notice I’ve been thinking about it, that once you really focus on it a year is quite a long time and there’s a lot you can choose to do in 365 days. Especially given the rule I invented at the start of all this where you won’t be particularly ill in all that time. You could fill it with a whole bucket list of ‘before you die’ activities, reunions, settlings of affairs in order and general rushing arounds so you barely notice the time passing. And this was my first urge. Or you might choose to calm down and do hardly any of those things.
Instead spending your precious days on things and with people that you truly love, not wasting a single sunny afternoon having another’s angst dumped on you or at one of those obligations or should-dos we just mentioned. It’s your choice, because it’s your life.
And that’s all I’ll say for now about people, friends and family. I realise it’s a sensitive subject, so I offer these thoughts gently and that’s enough said for today. Lots more ‘Year to live’ thinking here.
There are three ‘The Clearing’ posts. Read them all here.