Spring Cleaning

This weekend, we cut down a tree in our yard to make space for a new fence.

I knew this work was happening, yet when I pulled into the driveway and saw the tree trunk lying there on the lawn, limbs chopped away and leaves stripped, my heart dropped a little bit. This wasn’t an old tree, or even one we had planted. It was just a young tree that had taken root on its own, and sadly in the wrong spot.

Still, it hurt to cut the tree down, as it hurts to end any life, even that of an ant or a fly. I wasn’t the kind of child who killed insects arbitrarily. Usually, I sought to re-home them, returning them to where they belonged and myself to where I belonged so that we could each live on in harmony, our worlds separate and yet part of a greater whole.

What’s interesting about the idea of re-homing or relocating is that it can be applied to writing. When we write, we don’t usually put the words in the right order the first time. And yet, it can feel as bad as cutting down a tree to erase some of our hard-fought words. It’s very hard to throw your work away.

Childhood me would say it doesn’t have to be that way.

What if instead of erasing, instead of deleting or removing or throwing away, we just re-homed our words? Relocation is so much more palatable than extermination.

Removing a part of your work is still difficult no matter what you do with the words, but in the instance of relocation the pain seems to diminish. It’s not quite so gutting to take your words and place them aside, in a file or a pile or a folder where you know they will live on safely while you move forward in your own space, the space you have made within your work for improvement by setting the old words aside.

This spring, as we bring in the new, consider (rather than throwing away), setting aside the old for a later date or another time, even if that time may never come. Sometimes freedom is not in the outcome of our actions, but in the act of breaking away.

Sometimes, all we need is a bit of space in order to gain a fresh perspective.

Happy Spring, and happy writing to you all!




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