I've been going through a purging phase. It's probably just spring-cleaning taking hold. But it feels like more. It feels like I'm letting go of past versions of myself that survived previous cleanings. I donated all my darkroom photography books; difficult to do since I still identify myself with photography. Those years I spent in darkrooms were some of the most sublime years. But the books sit on my shelf just as a hallmark of what I used to do. I don't spend time in darkrooms any more. And despite purchasing an enlarger last year, I won't any time soon.
Here's the thing: I could be building a darkroom if I really wanted. But I haven't. The books and other paraphernalia portray potential that I don't enact. Sometimes I think these talismans of a past reality are a replacement for the actual doing, a way of making me seem more interesting than I am.
Cookbooks too seem to stand for some version of me that I role-played for a while. Not that I don't cook. I do, occasionally and especially if there's company. But mostly I don't. And any ideas I had that I would experiment with new recipes nightly has long ago evaporated.
My old philosophy books mostly went too, with the exceptions of Wittgenstein and Schopenhauer, who I'm still wont to pick up and read. I had a moment where I realized philosophy has already given me what I was going to take from it (not that there isn't more there, just that I'm no longer a philosopher in that way). 6 years of studying it changed my brain in so many ways. And I don't need books I won't read again to make that real, because it's manifest in me daily.
I have fantasies about getting to a place where every single thing in my apartment has essential and present-tense meaning or utility. (Not that there's no room for nostalgia -- nostalgia is a present tense feeling too.) But I need to readily summon something essential from the things around me. Not just feel they stand for something firmly past and no longer true about me, or so innate to have become unnecessary in their externalized forms.
I think too about how I want to live now at the age I am, or soon will be. I think about how boring I've become, with my dog and my job and my coffee-drinking, reading days. How happy all this has made me. I want to remove anything that tells me I should be yearning for something altogether different, a different size ass, a house I can't afford. I think about empty space and clear surfaces, rooms that will make me feel altogether at ease. I long now for things that will enhance my days in the smallest ways, not that suggest a life that needs an overhaul.
No matter how short the winter, the thaw always takes longer than I want. These weeks are restless ones, no bud comes too soon, no extra minute of light is greeted indifferently. Nothing arrives that isn't prologued with the sincerest of yearning. Perhaps the only way to spend this time is in restless upheaval, peeling away layers long forgot. As if getting to the essence of my own things will coax the world to stretch and awaken.