Remember, ‘Things’ are never permanent

My downfall is paper. White paper, yellow paper, fancy paper, plain paper, newspaper clippings, magazine articles.
Whole file cabinets of paper–five four-drawer cabinets in all, in fact.
I have an excellent filing system so I can find papers that I filed 20 or 30 years ago at the drop of a hat.
But the problem is I never want to find them!
A case in point is my Master’s thesis. In 1975, I began a Master’s degree in mass communications and finished my class work two years later. Then, all I had to finish was a thesis. How hard can that be?
Unfortunately, coming up with a topic was much harder than I thought!
So in desperation, I went to the journalism library one afternoon to search for a topic and promised myself to stay there until I found one. I perused the yearly books that listed abstracts of communications research–beginning with the current year.
As I read, two research ideas intrigued me: comic strips and sex roles in the media. But I observed that no one had researched these two together.
So I had my topic! Sex roles in the comics.
The research (from the beginning of comic strips in 1896 until 1979) was most interesting. I found that the comics reflected changing sex roles in society in graphic ways–for example, by changing the height of men and women, and by placing aprons on housewives in certain decades.
As I researched, I had my son take pictures of important examples. Later, I presented scores of illustrated lectures on the topic and was featured in the lifestyle section of the neighbouring city’s newspaper.
That newspaper feature was picked up by the television show “To Tell the Truth,” and I was featured as “the real Marie Snider.”
I wrote a book on the topic and had a Chicago agent. My book was considered by the top editorial board of Doubleday but in the end was rejected.
Then, the top editor at Scribner’s was very interested in publishing the book. But she wanted more research done.
Unfortunately, because of a busy schedule and “research fatigue,” the book was never published.
Now back to my filing cabinets. I still have six drawers (one-and-a-half filing cabinets) of research. Six drawers I haven’t looked at for 30 years.
So last Saturday, when my son asked if I had any extra filing cabinets, I said “Yes!” I’ll empty the drawers without even looking at them and will be delighted to get the cabinet out of the house.
But the important question is “Why?” Why do we save things from the past? Things that no longer have value. Things that take up valuable room in our living spaces.
Is it the work of getting rid of them, or is it the emotional attachment?
In her book “Making Peace with the Things in Your Life: Why Your Papers, Books, Clothes, and Other Possessions Keep Overwhelming You and What to Do About It,” Cindy Glovinsky writes: “None of us owns a single, solitary Thing permanently.”
“Each of our Things flows through our fingers temporarily, on its way to somewhere else.”
So, as you begin the New Year, remember that “Things” are never permanent and don’t be afraid to let them go.
Write Marie Snider at