Just a small part of all the boxes that need emptying and all the stuff that needs sorting

My fingers won’t be touching a lot of paint this week, if any at all…I’m feeling early spring break shivers and have begun to clear out that giganormous mess that was called my studio attic. Over the years I collected soooo much stuff that I could one day use for such and such project. But the creative mind finds new inspiration everywhere all the time, so the entire bunch just lay there waiting for “One day…” and became a burden that drained energy and inspiration rather than giving it.

And what to do with the incredible amount of journals and diaries I filled and saved over my life? Another life in a box? Re-use them in paintings? Journal all over my whining? Or a bonfire in the garden?

Up there in the attic I run into a good many dilemmas. One of the hardest ones is the giganormous collection of diaries that I’ve kept ever since I was 6 years old. Part of me wants to keep them. But when I leaf through them, especially those I wrote during my adolescent years, I feel uncomfortable. Some pages are beautiful reminders of a life past or little moments of beauty that travelled through my mind. But the larger part is a monotonous repetition of a handful of themes that have passed through them ever since I began to keep a diary.

Research has been carried out in theNetherlands and it proved that those who keep diaries are more unhappy than those that don’t. When it was published, I felt defensive. It was a likely outcome because many diarists only write to vent their grief in rough times. But leafing through my diaries yesterday I realised that all this writing probably did keep me down rather than lift me up. It kept the focus on my problems rather than offer me a chance to solve them. In many places in those diaries I seem totally coiled up in my problem-thinking. And reading that back feels incredibly uncomfortable. I feel like shaking up that 17, 18, 19 or 23-year old girl and say “Hey, go DO something and HAVE FUN!!! Toss that diary aside, meet people and make the best of what you’ve got!”

And yet another box, entirely filled with diaries…

My art journals are way better to leaf back through…sieving my thoughts and emotions through visual thinking before jotting them down on paper simply makes it clearer, more sensible and more profound. What took entire diaries to attempt to express now finds a place on one single page.

My husband thinks I should keep the diaries. For the kids, to keep something from their mom after I’m gone. But seriously, with my amount of diaries, it can’t be but a burden to anyone to keep. I don’t find them near interesting enough to donate to the national diary archive. And besides, this nagging is not what I want to leave behind. My diaries are not necessarily a reflection of what my life has been like. So for now I’ve stacked them back into those boxes. And after this week I might take a diary a week, tear out the meaningful pages and poems and burn the rest. Ritually. With a stiff drink to flush down the past and celebrate the present. To celebrate LIFE!

But for now no drinks, just hard work to create space…
I can’t wait until that attic is empty so that I can finally store my paintings and drawings there and create some good space in my studio so that all the good energy can flow freely again.

Oh, before I go, I have a question…If you have any old diaries, do you recognize my experience reading them back? What will you do with them?