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Everett Bogue vs Hugh Hefner: Ditch it All or Keep Scrapbooks?

2 Remember... photo by Tui Cameron
photo by Tui Cameron

I recently read a thought-provoking post called How to Destroy Your Past Lives (Starting Over) over at Everett Bogue’s blog, Far Beyond the Stars. In it, he states:

You have a choice, you can either let the pain and joys of the past build up until they’re too heavy a burden. Or, you can let everything go. Burn your notebooks, let the friends go, leave the souvenirs at the shop.

All that really matters is having a connection with the here and now. This breath, this movement, this heart beat.

What can you do to bring yourself here right now?

I get what Everett Bogue is saying, I really do. There is a reason I distilled all my belongings down to things that I could lift by myself and would fit into a small room. I agree that having fewer things frees up energy. I have let go of a lot of things, especially each time I have moved (and as I recently mentioned, I’ve moved 16 times in the past 10 years, so that was a lot of letting go!)

Even so, part of me balks at Everett’s suggestion to let go of everything, to burn every notebook after filling it up, as he does. For one thing, I suffer from chronic diary-ing, even if I rarely read it over. When I do, though, it’s not only good for a laugh, but has often made me aware of patterns in my thoughts and actions that I would not have seen otherwise.

Plus, I love reading other people’s diaries: “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “The Basketball Diaries,” “The Diary of Anais Nin,” and so forth. I think it would be a drag if everyone burned their diaries.

You may be wondering – due to this post’s title – how Hugh Hefner fits into this equation. Well, a few years ago, I caught part of a biography of Mr. Hefner and was surprised to learn that he is an avid scrapbooker. He even has a special room devoted to his scrapbooking, and has over 2000 completed volumes!

Another thing I like about Hefner, is that he schedules time each week for things like poker, intimate dinners and watching movies with his close friends. Often, a mogul such as him comes off as a total workaholic, but what struck me from this biography was how well-balanced Hefner appears. He seems to have a knack for juggling all the different aspects of his life, and I admire that.

So, while I agree with Everett Bogue that there are plenty of things I need to toss, burn and otherwise let go of, there are also things I would like to keep. The best way I can explain it is that I like to have some layers from the past, some texture in my life, the same as I like texture in paintings and music. I think the happy medium – for me – is to get rid of all extraneous clutter in my surroundings, while keeping some choice items in an organized manner a la Hugh Hefner.

I still have a major conflict, alas, between digital stuff and hard copy. All those diaries of mine could easily fit on a couple of CD’s, for instance. I sometimes imagine transcribing them all to a digital format, then burning the originals. Even that doesn’t feel quite right, though. I’m still working through that issue…

How do you feel? Which idea appeals to you more: ditching it all, keeping a scrapbook, or some other variation? Have you ever been through a major purging of your belongings? How did that feel?

Tui Snider
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  1. I regularly ditch things–books, clothes, ephemera–but I can’t let go of that box of diaries that I started at 11. I have written diaries all the way up to when I got on the net in the late 80s and started writing there. I also have letters and cards and a box of papers from grad school. I do actually take them out and look at them when I need to remember or use them for writing. I like having them and seeing evidence of a life well lived. I have too many books. No doubt. And probably too many shoes. Certainly some might say too many cats. I could do with paring down a bit but that box of one or two special items of clothing of the Bean’s I kept every year until well next year or her best schoolwork? Not a chance that is going anywhere.

    I have archives of old email lists and discussion groups I ran too…god we were funny. CD’s don’t take up too much room.
    I sound like a packrat, but I’m an organized one! Excellent post once again. You make me think and I like that.

  2. Yes. I love to get the journals out and read to them the things they said that had us all in stitches when they were little.

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      Sheila: That’s great! :) ~Tui

  3. I love reading the journals (and/or scraps of paper) that I wrote about raising the kids. It is amusing and enlightening and fun to remember the little things we used to do and the fun we used to have. For instance:
    “I know I always wanted a lot of kids, but sometimes when they all move and talk at once, I wonder why.”
    I love reading the kids’s milestones and the things they said or did when they were little!

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      Sheila: Funny stuff! Have you shared any of that with your kids? I bet they love hearing it. I need to do that for my step-daughter. ~Tui

  4. Interesting question. I purged the majority of my life’s possessions when I moved to Australia. I’m not very sentimental about possessions, so I have no problem tossing out journals and I rarely buy souvenirs from trips. My purge taught me that books were the things I had to keep. They hold the sentimentality for me – I can remember where I was and how I felt when I read them.

  5. I agree that there are some things you can do without but, I would NEVER burn journals… especially handwritten ones. I loves being able to look at my grandmother’s journals, read them and remember her. It reminds me of her… and I can usually picture her sitting down and writing things.

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      Paula: I like your idea of gleaning the good stuff from your diaries. I have some boxes that are such time capsules. I am curious to know what is in them!

      Sonia: How wonderful that your grandmother left you her journals. What a timeless connection you must feel to her!

      C. in Oz: I understand the purging, for sure. I can let go of possessions much easier than my journals, though. They have been my lifeline so many times…


  6. oooh interesting thoughts. There are journals I have that I will never go back and read. they deal with my past life and the hopes, dreams, and fears from that time. Plus I don’t like the idea of everyone reading my dirty laundry after I’m gone because there’s some really sensitive stuff. One of the things I’m going to do over the Thanksgiving weekend is go through these journals and type in the bits that I want to save and then release the rest of it from my life with a ceremony that will probably involve my grill and some fire.

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