Sunday Feb 05, 2023

Ayala: A new year, a new order and a ritual put off for too long – San Antonio Express-News


Holiday decorations have yet to be put away, and a few gifts have yet to reach their recipients, but the cleanup and organizing has commenced.

It has become a tradition that helps simplify my life. This year, it came with the luxury of hiring someone to clean this old house, now more than a century old.

My penchant for tidiness has been no replacement for dusting surfaces, spraying windows with Windex and swiping them down with newsprint.

Becoming dust free has not only helped eliminate allergens but reinvigorated me — clearing out my space, sinuses and head all at once.

What began as holiday cleanup has led to a tsunami of bringing order to disorder.

I’m nowhere near done.

Bags of clothes and shoes are ready to be donated. Other sections of my personal department store await the great purge.

Kitchen cabinets packed with rarely used pots and pans will get scrutiny, but expiration dates have taken care of a litany of evils and rid the refrigerator of health code violations.

These chores have helped start a new year.

Home, where we’ve spent so much time in the last two years, has become the main, perhaps the only place, that can calm the mind and nourish the soul.

The outside world has been too overwhelming, but in this house on the city’s West Side, calm can replace chaos.

It centers me, as do the files now in order.

While many of you have turned to software to store documents, I’ve remained a believer in the filing cabinet.

An absolute mess just a week ago, it’s now a testament to tabulated folders.

I’m not the only fan of the filing cabinet. A book, “The Filing Cabinet: A Vertical History of Information,” by Craig Robertson of Northeastern University, is devoted to its story.

A piece in The Atlantic paid tribute to the “deceptively ordinary piece of office furniture (that) transformed our relationship with information.”

At the turn of the last century, the filing cabinet wasn’t a piece of furniture, it was marketed under equipment and appliances.

Mine contains documents that begin matter of factly with medical and insurance files. They reveal blood test results and evidence of dissatisfaction with insurance companies.

They’re followed by death files, those that will be needed by the people I’ll leave behind, though I have no plans for that.

Going through them shows how much more I must do to make sure that chapter won’t be so difficult for my family. So, I’ve got a to-do list.

Then there are the files that lay out my financial future. It will be modest but far better than so many of my neighbors.

Among so many documents, dozens were purged, making clearer the important ones.

But the files I’ve spent the most time on are those containing no financial purpose, no assurance that policies can protect.

It’s a part of a rousing cleanup I’ve put off for too long. It’s not dread I’ve felt, exactly, but I’ve put off reviewing my late mother’s documents and those of my brother, who left us way before she did.

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