You have no idea how great it was to delete you from my address book.
I will be 65 in a couple of months’ time and this feels really significant for me. For one thing, I didn’t get to celebrate my 60th birthday properly because of bereavements so I intend to celebrate better in some way this year. For another, I’ll get my state pension in September and already feel the freedom this bestows on me with regard to the work I make. Now I can really choose what I want to make, regardless of whether it will sell or not. And finally …. well, I realise that I’ve been moving into a different life space and that this move will somehow become complete when I’m 65. I will be of an age where people retire or semi-retire or don’t but from now on nothing matters in the way it always did. There is a sense of liberation which I wasn’t expecting.
Throughout my life I have always kept all addresses, just in case, deleting only those of people who’ve died or moved without trace. This has been really important to me. I know I can make contact with people I’ve not heard from for 10 years if I wish. I’ve carefully updated my Addresses document regularly, and keep a small paper version of my most used contacts (mostly phone numbers) in my Filofax. (Yes, I’m that dinosaur.) The Filofax version is often reprinted in January. I do a lot of ‘housekeeping’ tasks in January and they always make me feel good.
Today our #64MillionArtists challenge was to write a letter saying something we’ve been meaning to say to someone, so I opened my Addresses file to find a lucky recipient. What I found instead was a whole host of lucky recipients, you whom I am never, ever going to need to contact again. I deleted you aIl! It’s done and I can’t ever get you back.
In some cases you are people or organisations that I can easily find contact numbers for on the internet. This, it has to be acknowledged, is an important factor but it really applies only to organisations or suppliers.
In some cases you’re home tutors. I don’t feel any affinity for you and when I see you in Waitrose you don’t seem to recognise me any more. Some of you are counsellors who were friends when I was counselling; I can’t even bring to mind some of your faces any more and again, those who I do remember, seem to ignore me in Waitrose. Occasionally one of us says hello and may even have a brief chat but I’ll never need to contact you. Some of you are artists but again I haven’t seen anything of you for so many years, or you belong to organisations that I might have applied to join but didn’t and at this stage won’t and even if I do, I’ll be applying on my own merits regardless of who I once knew.
And finally, a few of you were friends. Surprisingly, this was easier than I expected. I never thought I’d be able to delete a friend from my list of addresses but I have. I thought about what you offered as friends and then I thought about why we drifted apart. The reasons for drifting apart were nearly all because I don’t want friends with your views and values any more. I feel some shame for continuing contact in the days when I did because of what your friendship offered me. But not much.
So, farewell. Or not. I probably don’t care any more. I feel great. Liberated, forward-looking, positive and hopeful.