To be honest, there's other things I could (should..) be doing. Like taking advantage of my ACT study program. Maybe doing some extra school. Typing letters to my state reps and senator. But here I am again, writing away. It's a bit of an addiction. But a good one. I had an idea for a blog post about addictions. That'll take some more time to write, though. Today, my writing pertains to my distractableness (sort of). And what I'm doing instead of being productive.
I'm one of those people that keeps everything. And I mean everything. As a kid (and I'm not kidding about this, either), I tried to keep my cut-off fingernails. Apparently, I told my mom I wanted to start a collection. Yeah. (Hey, I was like... three, okay??)
You're probably thinking, what do fingernails have to do with anything?? It has to do with me keeping things. All the time. This includes e-mails. About two years ago, I started keeping personal e-mails that I really liked. Soon, it branched to all personal e-mails. After that, it branched to all e-mails save spam. Not kidding. If you were to log into my Gmail account right now, you would come upon an empty inbox. Not an e-mail in sight. But if you were to look at the left of the screen, you would see a list of no less than 45 folders. All my e-mail is separated and categorized into these folders. And I keep making more. I start e-mailing a new friend. Sign up for another newsletter. Another folder is created. The folders actually didn't come about until about six months ago. I had ten plus pages of e-mail, and was sick of sifting through my un-deleted spam and using my e-mail search engine. So I started making folders. Each of the friends I contact or have contacted through e-mail has their own folder. Another one is reserved for my speech e-mails. Still another for my Writer's Digest newsletters. And so on. I keep every e-mail. Every single e-mail.
So, what's the significance of this?
The other day, I was clicking through the folders labeled with names of people. People I e-mail regularly or once did so. People I should e-mail again (but always forget to) and people I may never do so with again. I opened each folder. And read the e-mails. Some made me smile. Some made me laugh. Some made my eyes water. But they all brought back memories.
An e-mail from one of my best friends right after NC.
Another from a friendship I let shrink to almost non-existence.
Still another from when I was going through a hard time.
Another exchange made me laugh and shake my head.
A message that changed my life.
And they're all important. They all mean something to me. No one writes letters in the mail anymore. Why should they? It's easier to switch on the computer, log on to Facebook or your e-mail account and shoot off a message. I still have the written letters I received from my pen pal when we still used snail mail. Now I keep her letters to me in a folder in my Gmail inbox.
Don't get me wrong. I love using e-mail. It's quick, efficient, and cheap. So cheap, it's free. And Facebook. I can have many conversations at once on Facebook. A photo comment thread here, and status thread here, instant messaging, private messaging. And it's all in one spot. But, it's probably a good thing I'm taking a month off Facebook.
But back to my point.
All the e-mails I receive matter to me. I read each one, sometimes several times. Often, I take my time in responding so I can think out a response as nice as the message I received. And I keep all of them.
I know that might sound creepy, but it's true.
Why do I keep them?
Memories, mostly. So I can go back and read them, and remember where I've been. Where my friends have been. What my relationships with people have been like.
Reading them, I've learned. I've remembered.
With some, I even regret.
Regret choices I made that harmed my relationships with people. Letting a friendship all but disappear. Truth is, if someone were to ask me what I thought I needed to work on the most, it would be my flakiness. I make promises I can't keep or only meet half-way. More than once, I find myself in a rock and a hard place, realizing that I probably just double-booked myself, forgot to talk to someone, didn't tell the entire truth, or didn't let someone in.
Someday, when I'm old, and suffer from memory loss, I hope someone will read the e-mails to me. So I can remember. And smile. And laugh. And maybe even cry.
So I keep the e-mails. For memories. For smiles. And laughter. And sometimes a few tears. But also, to learn.