Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Everything Under The Sun...

Unfinished Drawing - Early 1970s
Click on drawing to enlarge - ©1974-2009 jim otterstrom
I've been spending the first week of 2009 trying to organize and de-clutter my life, starting with what I'll call the library, where the computer, my desk, our books, and the music collection reside.
There's a steel flat-file cabinet (post office surplus) in the room, where I keep a lifetime of paraphernalia, including old documents, photos, and other memorabilia associated with my odd plethora of interests (or obsessions maybe). Sixteen drawers of crap, each one 18 inches wide by 24 inches deep, and ranging in height from 2 inches to 1 foot.
There was a time, long, long ago, when these files were neatly organized and I could easily find whatever I might be looking for. As the years passed by though, and drawers began to overflow, stuff started getting filed randomly, wherever it would fit, until it became nearly impossible to find anything.
Among these treasures are more than 30 years of newspaper articles on the environment; on pollution and climate change, energy, transportation, population, organic and sustainable farming, native species, diversity and habitat loss, natural and man-made disasters, indigenous peoples and their fates, on urban renewal and habitat restoration, endangered species & recovery efforts, and countless other topics that I have felt the need to research.
Articles that led me to hundreds of books where I could delve deeper into what's good, or bad, or simply interesting about our culture, and about the problems we face, as I strive to understand how we got here, where we might be going, and what solutions we could pursue.
There are also articles about issues and causes I've been closely involved with, such as the Ward Valley Nuclear Waste Dump, and the Headwaters Forest Campaign, among many others, distant, and local.
I've always had a desire to write, and all this input has been fuel for my fire, but I must admit, I haven't honed my writing skills enough to meet my own expectations. My writing is still pretty clunky.
I'm only halfway through cleaning out the file cabinet but I've already found well over 100 letters I've personally written to presidents, vice-presidents, senators, congresspersons, and even The World Bank, on a huge variety of issues, from the GATT & NAFTA treaties, to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, nuclear arms reductions, renewable energy subsidies, the mountaintop mining of coal, and so much more.
This doesn't include another 100+ letters generated, in my name, by our long distance phone company, Working Assets, now CREDO.
And, of course, it also doesn't include the hundreds of online petitions and letters I've submitted in the past ten or so years
I'm exhausted just thinking about all the effort I've put into dialogue substantially ignored by my elected representatives, especially my eternal congressman, the honorable Republican, Jerry Lewis, who thanks me for my letters and then tells me why he voted in opposition to my wishes.
Still, as long as there is a centralized government, I would encourage that government to be---of the people, by the people, and for the people---so, I participate in this so-called democracy, exercising my freedom of speech, and I'll never stop speaking my mind, even if mine is not the majority opinion.
Now, to get back to the organizational task at hand, there's also drawers full of artwork by family and friends; drawings, paintings and photos, geneology documents and historical family pictures, old magazines with articles about the hot-rods & race cars my stepfather built, articles about music and musicians, magazine & newspaper articles about my family and I, collections of stamps from my decades at the post office, old posters, signs, & stickers that I've found artistically or socially relevant to my unconventional vision, and just all kinds of other garbage utterly meaningless to anyone but myself.
Yes, this stuff is clutter, but it feeds my imagination and my creativity, so it looks like I'll only be able to part with maybe 25% of it, if I'm lucky. Not very Zen of me!
I'm having fun going through it all though, reminiscing about past efforts, accomplishments, and failures, and trying to organize it all in some rational meaningful way.
The most fun in all this is rediscovering something long forgotten, some relic from the distant past, like the above drawing, started in my 20s, but never finished.
I wonder what it would've looked like completed, but then again, is anything ever done?
I've decided I rather enjoy my drawing, and my life, in their unfinished states...

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Blogger susan said...

I like the drawing but I know if you approached the concept now it would be an entirely different piece. In the meanwhile you've come to understand creative freedom in its natural state. A rebellion against applied order is a sure sign.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Linda Navroth said...

Oy! I know the feeling of wanting to unburden one's self. Sounds like we have the same kind of archives going--and similar interests and concerns. I generally do purges annually, but the grand outcome usually comes to naught because I just can't part with odd bits of my past, even though in the grand scheme of things I know it is completely meaningless.

Have you ever thought about how small old houses used to be prior to the mid-1940s? Rooms and closets were small and cupboards scarce. Most people had only a few articles of clothing, a small number of 'heirloom' possessions, a few treasured photos, and few (if any) books of their own. The size of houses now and the proliferation of public storage concerns shows just how far we've gone with pack-ratting and hoarding.

I've found the best way to unload is when I am in a bad mood. I've only had one regret from throwing something away doing it this way and even that has dimmed over time.

I know your place is small, so I'm sure that helps a bit with discipline.

1:31 PM  
Blogger tansy said...

sometimes it's good to hold on to some feeds to soul!

i love the drawing, even unfinished!

4:28 PM  
Blogger The Unusual Farmchick said...

If you do not mind, I would like to save the drawing to file on my computer for resizing and use it for a label on a few of our jars of dried herbs/teas.
I LOVE the drawing and instantly pictured it as label for garden harvested Lemon balm. Not to be hidden behind a cabinet door, but out on the "tea shelf" for others to admire.
I would understand if you prefer I not, which is why I ask your permission.

3:05 PM  

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