“What the world really needs is more love and less paperwork” – Pearl Bailey

Clarity.

1) Unmuddied water: a shimmering, moving, entrancing veil that teases with snatched moments of clear vision; that permits imagination-catching moments of unrivalled perception.

2) A searing incision, blade like, sharp, freeing. Knowing that what is revealed is true.

I don’t mean to sound gnomic, like some ambiguous Tarot reader, but I’m struggling with trying to describe the clarity I’ve accidentally created today. It’s both watery and sharp; both soothingly cleansing and triumphantly sparkly.

Yes, I think I had better explain, too. I spent the afternoon invoicing, reviewing contracts, clearing that email backlog, catching up with household admin and then shredding kilos of paper. Seven years’ worth of tenancy agreements, a bailiff’s notice (I’m tempted to frame that one), cheque books stubs naming mad souls who parachuted for charity, lawyers, dentists, the mortgage, blah. It’s like peering through a historical porthole, spying the people who take cheques rather than plastic. God: it gets worse: bank statements going back 13 years, bills for 10, store card agreements for stores that no longer exist.

So, I tipped it all out, piled, shred and filed. I feel great! Clean, clear, and guiltless.

Uhuh, guilt. But why on earth would all this rubbish make me feel ‘guilty’? Weird…I will guiltlessly watch The Simpsons and have a think before coming back to you….

Hmm: Sideshow Bob had no answers for me. However, I think it’s the sense of things not being done. The more faffery [meaningless activity & noise, even if it is just paper: it’s uninvited and attention-seeking] there is, the more there is that might not be done…? And while you’re elsewhere, more comes in!

Over the last few months I’ve taken myself off a great number of email lists (news bulletins, shop offers etc) – it is pathetically liberating. Something so small but so powerful.

But this way, I know for sure when there are things that really do need doing. And the niggling sense of incompletion is gone; the understanding of my own time is genuine.

As a freelancer, being able to hold my own time in my own hands is psychologically vital. I feel like the prince in Sleeping Beauty: hacking away at a century’s worth of briars, tho’ what I’m about to snog at the end, I’m not so sure…

Have you seen Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil? Bureaucracy, paperwork, procedure, rules and petty codes mask the emptiness at the heart of the society. At the end, Robert de Niro’s saviour character suffers a fate that makes that metaphor flesh (I won’t spoil it if you’ve not seen it, but I thoroughly recommend you do).

If you have any idea of what I’m talking about (and I suspect freelancers are more prey to this than 9-5-ers), try using the shredder and the “unsubscribe” button if you don’t already. Feel free to share with us when your world comes crashing down around you (or when your balloon goes sky high and you just don’t care).

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