If I can propose one problem for our generation, it is the inability to let go.
Of the pins we are pinning, the ex-boyfriend’s Facebook feed, the high school friend’s mix CD. Of the tweets we decided were too important not to favorite. The outfits we just had to photograph and the text messages we needed to lock down forever.
Let go of the anxieties that something is happening and we are missing it. We are sitting in a classroom or an office or the kitchen table in our parent’s house, trying to learn how to focus on someone else’s voice, but our mind is pedaling backward to the things we won’t ever know happened.
We won’t know who won the game on Monday night because we will be sleeping. Or trying to, but instead we’ll toss and turn and wonder, in our restless waking, why we didn’t just stay up. Why we didn’t just cave.
We’ll want to let go of the grocery receipts and the bank statements and the paystubs, but then we’ll curse out loud when the bread turns up moldy or the milk sour or the government wants to know how much money we earned this year and we don’t remember anymore.
We’re afraid of forgetting something that the world has told us, hundreds of times in different words, that we must always remember.
Remember the song you used to love before you broke up with him. The first time you forgot how to drive because your knees were weak. Remember the way she said your name when she first met you, how she got it right even if most people didn’t.
It’s hard to let go. It’s harder, still, to hold on. Harder to remember that as much as we’d like to hoard every receipt, every family recipe, every blog post that ever caught our eyes, it’s easier to live without feeling like we are all carrying our personal Internet around in our backpacks. It’s easier to breathe when we trust the important parts to float to the tops of our brains.
We can subscribe to fifteen different email newsletters, add 47 blogs to our Google Reader, make a calendar for every single person we ever thought we’d need to track down. But it’s hard to say that all of that will matter. It’s hard to say how many blog posts we’ll actually read, how many emails we’ll automatically mark read, how many important things will bury themselves under a pile of mediocre notices.
How do we let go of what we don’t need—300 Q-tips, an 18-pack of paper towels, those bargain three-packs of socks that come in every color—and hold close what we cannot afford to lose?
How do you know, when you are so used to accumulating and stockpiling both real and imagined fears and anxieties and memories and accoutrements, what to keep?