My wife and I have been doing our spring cleaning a little early. My in-laws, James and Kay, will be our guests as they explore all the options open to them as they transition from Northern Virginia to Macon.
I have been amazed at all the stuff weve accumulated. Stuff we have no use for. Stuff thats obsolete like my first cell phone that weighs in at about 10 pounds. Now our phones are measured in ounces. If I had tried to carry that ancient device (at the time cutting edge technology) on my hip, Id look like a sagger with my pants down below the butt line.
We filled garbage bag after garbage bag. We gave the good stuff someone else could use to Goodwill. Im a technology hoarder -- old computers, monitors and laptops that also outweigh my new ones by several pounds. They are useless now, the batteries wont charge and the software was on what they called floppy disks. I had tons of them, too. Not anymore.
I suffered a tinge of separation anxiety when parting with my stuff. You might know the feeling. Even though you never used it and barely saw it, you knew it was there -- and a situation could arise to use it again -- if you can find it.
I dont want to be part of the disposable generation, filling up the landfill with my treasured junk. But there comes a time to say goodbye. We had books that hadnt been opened since college, and some of mine, I rarely opened then.
We have old National Geographic magazines. Those stay. Not sure why, but their just too precious to toss. National Geo maps that we will never use -- but they still look good. I dont get offended when showing the maps to my grandchildren that they say theyve got that on their phones.
There are some things I would never toss away. We have tons of pictures, boxes and boxes. They are moments frozen in time for me. Although I keep a lot of them on computer now, we have thousands taken before that technology could substitute for the printed version.
Pictures, like good songs, remind me of special times -- some good, some bad. Time moves so rapidly that its easy to forget what has gone on last year, much less decades ago, but a picture refreshes those memories.
I have a picture I took in 1993 of a teenager walking in the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial during the 30th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. That march, soon to be 50 years old, is where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., delivered his I Have A Dream speech. Thirty years later, the teen who wasnt alive when King walked the Earth, carried a sign that read, Health care for all.
I wonder if that young man, soon to be 20 years older, knew what Health care for all, meant? I wonder if he thought we would still be fighting over health care in 2012? I wonder, is he married? Does he have children? Is he still alive?
I wonder if the thought ever crossed his mind in 93, that there could be a two-term black president of the United States living just a few blocks away in the White House?
What was he thinking as he walked knee-deep in the reflecting pool that runs between the Lincoln Memorial and the magnificent 555-foot Washington Monument, only separated by 17th Street?
Where was this kid from? How did he get there? Ill never know those answers. I didnt know him, but as I took his picture he looked squarely at me. (If you want to see the picture, check out my Facebook page.)
Speaking of technology, I better be careful when I say, Ill never know those answers. Who knows, someone might cross my Facebook page and recognize him and before you know it, I might have the answers I seek. If that happens, Ill let you know.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via e-mail at email@example.com.