| What I’m Holding On To |

Thrown Clear

“Just toss it!” is the rallying cry of these weeks. But some items we simply can’t bring ourselves to discard. 9 writers share

Every year, before Pesach, I try to declutter. I do!

But, just so you get the picture, when a friend wanted to borrow my book on home organization and decluttering for those with ADHD, I couldn’t find it. A massive search located it under a bed.

What I work harder at is making Pesach cleaning spiritual. The cleaning out of the yetzer hara. That speaks to me far more than spring cleaning. And yet, every year, I look at, think about, debate, and ultimately ignore my old diaries in the closet.

I want to throw them out along with the chometz. They feel like chometz. Life before teshuvah and all that entails.

Every time I travel, when I check in with the friend who has marching orders to destroy those diaries in case of my sudden demise, chas v’shalom, she asks, “You still have those? Are we going to go through this every time you go on a trip? What are you waiting for?!”

But throwing out a diary? Isn’t that like throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater? Isn’t that like throwing away… me?

I poured myself into these pages. And though I’ve barely looked at them in years, I remember many entries. Others, when I occasionally flip through the pages, I can’t recall at all. Sometimes I’m amused by the reminders (think crazy sibling/school drama), or encouraged by how far I’ve come from those early days of discovering the Torah world, or nostalgic at mentions of my grandparents.

But not everything is something I want to remember. It takes you back. And I don’t always want to go there.

Can I just trust that those memories I want to remember, I do? And acknowledge that forgetting can be a huge gift?

I consulted a friend. “It seems to me,” she responded, “that a simple rule of thumb would be: Would reading them be good for me? Would it bring me closer or further from Hashem? And then decide based on that.”

Excellent advice. The kind I’d give someone else if they asked me.

So now I’m asking myself: Do they stay or do they go?

Every Seder night I’m commanded to personally leave Mitzrayim. This year feels different, like I’m finally ready to leave my chains and limitations behind. Some (but not all!) of who I was, what I did, what I passionately believed, had been discarded. Why hold on to any negative records of that self?

I want to leave my children and grandchildren the legacy of who I am now, who I’ve worked — and am still working — to become. What I want to tell them, I will. What I don’t want to share, I don’t want them reading after I’m gone.

So, how is this year different from every other year?

I know the answer to that fifth question.

Cue the shredder.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 734)

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