Monday, January 30, 2012

Binge and Purge

My phone holds exactly 301 text messages.  Once I get there, I have to start deleting (something that is wholesomely annoying when the limit is reached in the middle of a conversation).

Being someone who hordes information, I have been stockpiling text messages over the past eight months (or however long I've had this phone), keeping the ones that were particularly salacious, interesting, insulting, funny, and/or marked an occasion I wanted to remember.  By this morning, the number of messages I didn't want to delete had pushed past 200, making texting conversations in the present a little cumbersome.

So I did what I should have done long ago (long before so many other messages I would have kept were lost to the delete function in a panic to open up more room) and typed them all up in Word.  All 200 of them.  Complete with commentary.  Categorized by texter.

I hear myself say things sometimes like, "[So and so] was stupid to do that.  I write everything down!"  Or, "Does [so and so] not realize that I'm recording all of this?!"  And when I say those things, I'm pretty sure I come off as a vindictive bitch, especially to people who don't know me.  I have a tendency to blurt out the truth even when I shouldn't, and when someone's behavior is particularly bizarre, my first instinct seems to be to want to warn that person that there's a fairly high likelihood that that behavior will wind up in written form somewhere.

But I never, ever write things down for the purpose of revenge.  (If I did, I would have published the book about Ireland long, long ago...)  I write things down because human memory is irreparably fallible, and I write things down because one of the few things I enjoy as much as recording the present is reading about the past. 

It's amazing the insight that can come from reading something, written without the warping influence of time, weeks or months (or years) after the emotion of the moment has faded away.

I write things down because in striving to learn from my past mistakes, every once in a while I need to be reminded of what those mistakes were.  Because if I don't reflect on them - particularly the little ones that are easy to forget - I'll lose the lesson.  This is nothing unique to me; much of the American public, for instance, seems to have forgotten the president we had just four years ago, and many are ready again to support his failed policies.  If we do this collectively all the time, of course it makes sense that we do it on an individual level also. 

When I read through those texts today, what I realized was that I needed reminding about the mistakes I've made in the past eight months.  I've made so many of them.  Enough that it was hard for me to keep up with them all, and thus it's no wonder a few of them slipped through the cracks. 

I keep telling everyone I'm writing all of this Breakaway stuff down, but it's not because I have any plans to eviscerate anyone in literature.  I do sincerely hope to one day have the story arc I need to write a book that is enjoyable to the general public, but on a much more personal level, I write about Breakaway because I write about everything.  In that particular group, not all of my experiences have been good, and it's sometimes so hard to remember why people pissed me off, and so easy to slip back into what's comfortable and familiar rather than to make the changes necessary in my relationships with those who have done things to make me uncomfortable. 

I feel strangely lighter now that my text count is back to zero.  It's as if a physical weight has been lifted.  And maybe the biggest lesson that came from today's exercise is that my social circle could probably use the same level of trimming that my phone inbox just got...


  1. You're so wise - you should've been an owl :) (Er... I hope you guys have that saying too about owls being wise...? Otherwise, that makes no sense whatsoever, haha!)

    However, my point was not as much about owls as it were on you being wise. Like you said, the whole point of mistakes is to learn from them, how come so many people miss out on that?! I think it's a great character trait to have, the need and will to reflect on your own actions and to grow from your mistakes and successes.

    Brilliantly written my friend, as always.

  2. This isn't the first pic you've taken with posters up on the walls. Please tell me this is your 15 year old cousin's room. ;)

  3. ^^^ That picture is actually a year or so old by now. But, I am proud to say, the background has not changed... ;)

    Malin, haha, we do have that saying! And thank you very much...I was actually feeling quite unwise as I read through some of my conversations and realized how quickly I'd fallen back into some unproductive patterns of behavior. But the whole text message thing wound up being a great exercise because I am going to town getting things done this week! I guess I sometimes feel like my life is too full of crap, and in this case, clearing it out in the literal sense has (at least temporarily) helped me in a metaphorical way too. As someone's father once told me, "It's all about LEARNING!" ;D

  4. Well done mate, I wish I had the patients that you do sometimes!

  5. OMG! I'd forgotten about that. "It's all about learning" That makes me want to NOT learn anything at all...

  6. I seem to have decided - very unconsciously of course - at one point to NEVER learn from my mistakes as I keep repeating them whenever I can O.O


  7. Sam, it's probably more like OCD. :D

    Malin, I KNOW, RIGHT?! He took such a nice little sentence, with a good message behind it, and ruined it for all of eternity...

    Sasha, no! I'm sure it's not true!! (But since we do seem to lead parallel lives, I definitely can relate to it feeling like that at times... :))

  8. No love for "someone's father" whatsoever.

  9. I have hand written texts that I didn't want to lose or forget but I never thought of saving them to my computer! That's genius! I don't use my laptop all that much because my iphone has pretty much taken over my life. Blah! :/

    1. See, I'm the exact opposite! I read your comment and thought how brilliant it was to handwrite them! (Because that way, no one could search your computer for them. I'm apparently becoming more and more paranoid about technology or something... :D)