Sunday, October 13, 2013

The illusion of buzz

I am on a mission to declutter; a detox spree of sorts. At the moment I am writing these words, my yahoo inbox has 1 read email, 34 sent emails, 1 spam, and 2 emails in the trash folder. I am sure that for a lot of people, this is nothing extraordinary. Their email folders are always clean and organized. Not me; I've never been that person. For some reason, I always let matters pile up till it gets to a point of me simply breaking down overwhelmed. This is why these inbox statistics mean a lot to me. I have arrived at this number after having started out with over 8000 emails in my inbox that had gathered over six years. I rarely delete anything. I always want to analyze them all - every single word in every single email, but never can do it instantly. And so they waited - waited for six long years - forgotten, rusted, and ancient.

Contrary to what I thought, sorting and decluttering are not fun activities. They are emotionally demanding and drain one of energy. If you are simply going to delete all, it shouldn't be a problem. But I was sure that amidst all the junk, there would be treasure that will need to be archived. So you go back, simply glancing at some subject lines, opening the others, and taking a call as to which folder they would best belong to. Most of them, of course, go to the trash can. The newsletters that you thought you will read, the vocabulary hints that you planned to study for CAT, the weight loss tips that you intended to follow, the self-help forums that subscribed to, the runners' club that you decided to be an active part of - well, truth is, you never ever had time for them all. But you still subscribed anyway. It is always easy and gratifying to believe that you can do everything you want to.

And so the journey proceeds, email after email. And then it strikes you that you are not simply sifting through old email, you are actually sifting through memories, events, promises, relationships, and goals - you are actually taking a walk through your past! You observe the distinct phases, you see correspondence with people at different phases - all of whom disappear gradually to be replaced by new names. You realize that you have not changed at all, although many of your priorities did with time. You are embarrassed by who you were in certain emails, and surprised by the maturity you exhibit in others.

Finally, there are all sorted and stacked and tagged in folders. You feel a sense of control over your past. Your inbox is empty. You have been so caught up with organizing the past that you are a bit uncomfortable with the emptiness of the present that is symbolized by the inbox with no email. Now what? The cobwebs have been cleared, the space has been made, but you are so used to being in the illusion of plenty that the empty space seems unsettling. Nothing seems significant enough to be thrown in there. Nothing seems significant enough in life anymore. You want all the emails back; not because they added any value but simply because they created an illusion of buzz.

20 comments:

Ganesh Puttu said...

hmmmm read this and immediately inspired went and read all my e-mails in all folders- including trash and spam.....best one hour's comedy of this week- reading all those spam mails offering me...uhmmm.....things. and btw, i now realize why all my mails to you go unanswered...i just have to wait for another 6 more years till you get round to reading them and replying, right?

harish ram said...

powerful, captivating and intense last two paragraphs.

PS: nothing wrong in the 1st 2. but the last two were in a different league.

Sinduja said...

:) Puttu!

I thought this one will go without any comments.

And yes, the plan is, once all my accounts are clean, I will start afresh and build the network that got lost amidst all the chaos and clutter. So, I guess that answered your question. :)

Raj said...

The 'illusion of buzz' is very important in our lives. Even though we don't matter on a cosmic scale, we do matter a lot on (our own) personal scale. The illusion that we are important, is more important than whether we actually are. So, illusion is inspirational & powerful.

Back in the days of yahoo mail, once I was very upset that I had 0 mails, checking after one week. I went and subscribed to some daily spam 'services' so that I'll never feel so unimportant again. Yeah, I pretty much had to abandon that mail account soon after! :)

Anu Krishnan said...

Here's to all the junk I have in my laptop not because I need them, but because at some point, they meant something. They all represent phases of my life. Same reason why I have an old table full of my school stuff at home :)

Sinduja said...

@Harish: Harish!! so good to see you here, man. Really! :) And a compliment from you means a lot! Thank you!

Sinduja said...

@Raj: The first paragraph of your comment is really powerful, Raj. And I completely agree.
And I so relate to your mention about checking emails constantly. Yes, I used to be obsessed over it too. But I disagree with your use of the adjective "inspirational." I think we need to go beyond this feeling, these illusions and root our sense of self - our sense of importance elsewhere. It is difficult, but it will have its rewards, I think.

Sinduja said...

@Anu: "At some point, they meant something" - So true! :) But what is it exactly that they do to you when you sift through them today? Will you be better off with the space that clearing them brings? This is for you to decide! :)

karthick r said...

Hello celeb-blogger,
How's you?
Mails - let them pile up. What's the harm anyway? But I feel the same way when it comes to clearing contents from my hard drive.
It's an emotional decision to delete old movies. Almost feel like saying "No offence Remy (Ratatouille). Just that I've to move on. I can no longer sit and laugh at you and your shenanigans. Oor thappa pesum. Hope you understand. "

~ cheers.!

Red Handed said...

6 yrs of analyzing? :D
btw sometimes a walk over the past makes you realize you are in a better place right nw :D

Sinduja said...

@karthik: Celeb-blogger? Haha, nambale sollika vendiyadhu dhaan! I knew this will happen. There you are, writing all profound and deep, seeking solace, and then comes this one guy with one question that topples everything - "So what?" Lol. Nevertheless, I suggest you do this. C'mon, go for an old-email deleting spree and see how..um, engaging it can be!

Sinduja said...

@Red Handed: Oh, RH, trust me, it's been over 13 years of over-thinking. True, some people get to a better place, but I somehow feel I left the best years of mine back at college. Miss those days! :)

mahesh said...

Four months between posts??? Hope all is well - do blog regularly :)

Sharan said...

Your writing is really engaging. Hmm..lot of will power and patience is required to overcome boredom, emptiness and silence of reality to attain real buzz in life. illusions of buzz is the least resistant path towards happiness(illusionary)

bomzie said...

I like this post.

Masterbaiter said...

This blog is life changing. After reading this I understood what was wrong with my life. Thank you babe.

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C.V.Varun said...

Sindu, Please return to the blogsphere. It could use more good writing.