My mother got me the most unusual gift.
At least I haven’t heard of anyone ever intentionally acquiring one of these. And it’s not something that ends up in your house without serious intent and commitment!
I ve never heard of anyone putting one of these on their wish list or owning one. Aside from my mother and her parents before her.
I don’t even know of business owners owning them!
And I know a lot of small business owners.
What my mother got me was; a metal four-drawer filing cabinet.
(not the one on the photo – that’s how mine would look if I would invest in painting things so they look nice!)
She had purged her archives and one of her four metal (grey!!) cabinets had become available.
There was only one condition: I had to arrange for it to be carried up the stairs of my apartment. I probably have to give my firstborn to ever compensate my friend for that favor but it was worth it.
Since yesterday, I am the proud owner of my very first, metal, fire-resistant filing cabinet.
Which in 2017, a time of collective decluttering, Marie Kondo and minimalism, feels absolutely ancient.
I felt we were hauling a Second World War relic up the stairs.
I also received about two hundred folders, but you can also store ring binders, photo albums and diaries in there, without putting them in a folder.
“That should be enough to get you started,” my mother said when she gave me the box of folders.
At which the friend who was helping me responded;
“You can now compartmentalize your life into two hundred separate bits.”
So no, I m not short on folders. But I can tell you, that cabinet? It’s FULL. Not a 100% but only because I haven’t stored or sorted through still-to-be-processed photoprints, didn’t file my correspondence in there and didn’t include my photo negatives, nor the four kilos of children’s drawings my mother returned to me.
Now that I had a cabinet, I was old enough to file my own drawings.
Although there is too little room to store everything I want, the result is phenomenal.
I can now take Facebook’s memory feature “What happened X years ago” to a whole new level.
I can show you what I did on this day 26 years ago!
My diary, my agenda, my photo album, my folder with souvenirs;
I can see it at a glance!
And I happen to know, that 26 years ago something HUGE happened; I met Benjamin.
I know exactly where it happened, and yet there is almost nothing that reminds me of it…
Someone took a picture of me at the event, and it coincidentally had him on it as well. That’s all that remained.
All other evidence got lost.
I know there was a paper trail surrounding the event and there is also one agenda missing. It’s the one agenda I threw away. Maybe it was in an effort to be normal and to get rid of an agenda as soon as the year had past. Or maybe it was because I knew exactly how important it was and therefor I wanted it destroyed.
Fifteen years later I started to reconstruct our history, in the Dutch novel Mango.
I kept on writing which became in the English book Dutch American Diary.
For six, seven and ultimately eight books, I wrote about Benjamin. And after their release, I created one collective work:
Het Boek Benjamin (The Book of Benjamin)
For whatever paper trails and agendas I destroyed, whatever log I failed to fill out and whatever diary entries I didn’t make;
In the end the story of Benjamin produced more written evidence than all of the four drawers of my filing cabinet combined.
An Unexamined Life is Not Worth Living
The book, the guy and the filing cabinet was originally sent out as a newsletter 30 August 2017
and will be included in my upcoming book:
I M NOT CHANGING MY FUCKING SHOW
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