On Cleaning Out a Desk Drawer


c. 1400

Thomas Aquinas, recalling Aristotle, said in a famous passage that “it is the nature of a wise man to order things” (Sapientis est ordinate). Fr James V. Schall, The Order of Things

On Friday morning, I came down to my desk to finish up a blog post I intended to publish today.  It was on a topic that I was certain would be of great interest and importance to my reader.  I knew it would just make his/her whole day.  Then I notice some unfiled papers sitting on my desk and I decided they should be put away.  I opened the bottom left drawer of my desk, a file drawer, and it was just jammed packed; I wasn’t sure I could get any more paper into it.  I also realized that, after several months inattention, the order I had originally set it up with had vanished.   So, I thought, before I finish the blog post, I’ll just take half an hour and set things right and get rid of a lot of useless junk I was sure  had accumulated in all those green hanging files, no big deal.  I thought it would be easy. I’m nothing if not fearless.

I began pulling hanging files out by the fistful.  I thought I could just dump out this junk, en masse, but found out, much to my surprise, there was mostly just hanging files containing empty file folders.  I put all these together in the back of the drawer.  But then I ran into a problem I face every time I attempt a project like this; I would have to make life or death decisions.  For example, there was quite a bit of material, for retreats and weekly classes, prayer services, etc., that I’d used when assisting in the RCIA program in El Paso. Should I keep these? Would I ever use them again? I decided better safe than sorry, they stayed. I found copies of articles off the web that I thought might serve as fuel for blog posts at one time or another.  I spent a good 15 minutes reviewing them trying to decide whether I should keep them or not.  Nearly a half-hour later I decided they warranted further investigation, they went back into the drawer for later date when I would have time to this.  I put them back, this time in a different place and clearly labeled; I had to show some progress.

Then I found some materials from my last high school reunion; those had to stay, but I did manage to label them.  I found old records of stock research I’d done many years ago, all neatly catalogued and filed.  I was able to junk these, but it took 20 minutes to go through them to make sure that was the right decision.  Still, I had freed up some room.

Suddenly, a pack of post it notes popped out of the drawer above the desk drawer and I had to investigate the cause, resulting in a good 40 minutes spent emptying out and reorganizing this drawer.  I had to find a place to put the stuff that came out of that drawer, leading me to reorganize yet another drawer, which had some papers in it that should have been filed in a second file drawer; I had to check it out to see if it required attention.  I made a start and took some files from there and decided they really belonged in the first file drawer, which was now as jam packed as when I’d started.  On this went for a goodly amount of time.  Finally, exhausted, I realized that I was more or less back where I’d started. Frustrated, I gave up.

Retirement is supposed to be about free time, resting up a bit from a life time of hard work and tight time schedules and impossibly unreasonable projects which lead nowhere to accomplish. Suddenly I felt like I was back at work. I decided, then and there, it was time for a nap.

Oh, I never did get that blog post written so there’s nothing for today.

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3 thoughts on “On Cleaning Out a Desk Drawer

  1. Just wanted you to know that I was suppose to be DELETING some junk from my FACEBOOK APP collection when I decided to go my blog to finish up a little something I had begun the other day. (WHEW!)

    It seems that after 59, beginning one thing and completing it before moving on to another “chore” or project is something I never do anymore. I begin one thing which will remind me of something else…which will remind me of something else…! Gone are the days of focus and resolute! “Multi” is the word for the Autumn (actually early Winter) of my years.

    Life is good…it’s funny and always unpredictable. I’ve come to believe the Golden years are more like rusty years…and a time to roll with the punches…

    You made me chuckle today…thank you!
    A fellow blogger

    1. I’m very happy you were able to get a chuckle out of my post, makes it all worthwhile if I can brighten someone’s day now and then.

      It certainly feels like the golden years would more aptly be called rusty; I feel that way more and more everyday. As far as the focus element, it is indeed much better just to accept these things and thank God we’re still around to enjoy them. I think learning a sense of gratitude is what it’s all about.

      Thank you for your comment.

      1. Yes… Always good. My husband feels the same and my kids get a kick from our senses of humor on the subject of getting older… Ergo wiser, me hopes! (at least a bit wiser lol)

        Thanks again!

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