Janesville21.5°

Personal Effects

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James Martin
August 16, 2012

Over the last two weeks, I have been slowly cleaning out and packing up my office.   With newspaper and shredded documents, I carefully packed up my personal effects.  The stuff you collect over a lifetime.

My office contained treasures like an antique ship in a bottle that my grandfather brought over when he immigrated from Ireland, and an alabaster hand carved tusk I bought in Kazakhstan. There was an elephant chess set and the majority of my elephant collection. Elephants made from stone and wood, Mt. St. Helen's ash, glass, and pottery; elephants in nuts and bolts and cheesy kitsch ones that gave tacky a bad name.  On the walls were family pictures, plaques, and diplomas that cost a fortune a lifetime ago.  They are all boxed up.

I cleaned out my desk and boxed it up.   If you are missing an old phone charger, I probably have it.  There were books and a slinky, crayons and lapel pins, and a multitude of knicks-knacks, along with pictures under the desk glass.  It is all boxed up.

The walls are now barren except for the hangers marking the absence of the personalization of my space.  The shelves are empty aside from the dust outline of my elephants, as if the rapture took them to the mythical elephant graveyard.  

The desk remains, along with the chairs, table and bookshelves.   The room is still full, but at the same, empty.  It is my past, not my future.  And over the next four months my law practice will wind down and close for good.  

But that being said, it is simply a turn in my journey.  And I was glad that I was able to do this task and not leave it for others.   It was therapeutic to pack up my personal effects.  I was able to toss the clutter without value while able to carefully pack away that which is important.  And therein lies the lesson I learned on this turn.

The clutter of our lives prevent us from taking care of the important things. There is only so much that we can keep, and if we fill our space with pain and problems, junk and baggage, there is no room for the things that have meaning. 

So take the opportunity to clean out your desk.  It is a good feeling. 


James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.


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