Deep Cleaning before the Year of the Metal Rat
There is a family cleaning ritual before Lunar New Year that has left quite an impression on me. Weeks before the festival, we go over our possessions and fix what are broken, part ways with broken things that are beyond repair. We give away clothes, shoes that we don’t wear anymore. We return things we borrow (including money), and resolve any disputes (as best as we can). As it gets closer to New Year we clean the entire house (including the furniture). Some people put a new coat of paint or fix up the house if they have the budget. The heart of this practice is to “sweep away the old dust, the stale and bad energy” to make space for a brand new beginning, good luck, and prosperity that the new year brings.
So this year I decided to do some cleaning like in the good old days. It didn’t take long to go over my physical possessions as I have been living out of my suitcase since When I was done, I started clearing out my digital files like emails, documents, apps, videos, audios and photos. Oh boy! I didn’t know I have turned into quite a digital hoarder! It is shocking and overwhelming to look at the amount of digital files I own in my phone and computer. Many of these files are trivial and unnecessary such as photos of the coffee I drank last year. So as I was straining my eyes and wondering how long this digital clean up was going to take, the answer came as a surprise. “Forever if you don’t change your attitude.”
What attitude? I pondered upon this question for a long time, way past Chinese New Year, and finally it dawned on me that I consume and accumulate digital input as if I have a bottomless pit. Having a super large storage capacity, and the ease of access, I rarely pause to consider if I need what I save or download onto my phone or computer. I think of cleaning as an expression of caring and being responsible for the things I own. Do I feel responsible for the digital files I own? Do I care? I think the big questions are what are my values and who do I become when I interact in the digital world . More to ponder.