Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Wed, 21 Feb 2001 08:40:26 -0500

Winter Cleaning


From the recent blur of holiday gatherings, one conversation sticks with me. The subject of resolutions inevitably came up at a party, and a woman had an unusual take on it.

She was born Japanese-American in one of the shameful internment camps of World War II. This didn't stop her parents from giving her an American name, Gail.

She dropped it as an adult in favor of Yayoe. She also has readopted Japanese practices.

"At the end of each year," she said at the party, "we get rid of the clutter in our life, throwing away what we don't need. This lets us start the new year with a fresh outlook."

My friends from Japan endorse a long-standing habit of mine. I too like to debug my surroundings at this time of year.

This is my version of New Year's resolutions. Instead of listing what I'd like to get in the coming year, I think about what I can GET RID OF at the start of the new cycle.

The cleaning doesn't necessarily have to come as one year clicks over to the next. But I finished most of mine in the first week of oh-one.

The Running Encyclopedia had absorbed me but increasingly cluttered my office during the old year. It left home the first working day of January (see RC 342).

I cleared debris of 2000 from my files and bookshelves. I purged outdated story notes (some of which had survived the cleaning binge for five years). I tidied up my website, eliminating some little-read pages and replacing outdated photos.

Dust-gathering computer equipment went to new homes. Goodwill took all the clothes unworn in a year or more.

Finally I streamlined my running, which has a way of collecting complications during a year. Now I've simplified it into a sentence that would fit on a Post-It note yet would describe what I do on 98 percent of the running days:

Run one mile to one hour a day, depending on what the legs can do and what the day's competing demands allow.

I could tell here of additions and exceptions to that plan. But this isn't the time to clutter the clearer path I now see into the year ahead.

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