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I Am (Discardia) Legend

November 20, 2010

Early one chilly, Spring morning I was engaged in what normally I would have considered two satisfying activities: a round of Discardia and another viewing of the third adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend. The film, which is a well executed departure – albeit polarizing – from the source material really imparts what I believe is the take-away message (at least the one I got from the book): there is a point where good intention, desperation and a singular vision, not tempered by humanity, intersect with terrible consequences. While I had often pondered the moral and ethics as presented in the 2007 holiday heart-warmer, it seemed terribly relevant as I berated myself for not being better in my practice of Discardia. During that Spring, I had kept a detailed Discardia journal where I drafted Discardia goals, checkpoints and sketched out – what I believed – were viable organizational systems. Even at the time the desperation I felt was palatable. It was that desperation and commitment to goal that seemed faintly Nevillian (get it, cause Smith’s character’s name was Dr. Robert Neville) and that notion gave me pause.

It occurred to me the quest for whatever feeling of being perfectly Discardia’d 100% of the time was supposed to feel like was overriding my actual commitment to the practice. It wasn’t enough to just systematically and thoughtfully remove, purpose and regift items that no longer seemed useful to my current life or goals; it was supposed to be something I could feel, taste, touch and see with each thing I did. I was supposed to open my email and not see random messages requiring responses. Everything was supposed to be in its place poised for utility. And this was bananas. And this was not Discardia. In addition to things, Discardia is about letting go of ideas, goals and activities that no longer feel useful. I didn’t need to ditch another pot holder or gray cardigan: I needed to ditch my draconian interpretation of Discardia itself. If we’re still following along with our friend Will Smith and his woes, this would be the point of the film where his character could have shown real humanity, but opted not to. He could have see his last tragic loss as evidence he might have been off track. A warning of sorts to rethink things, rather than a challenge to keep the arm’s race going.

spoilerish things about the film below

The relationship Neville had with his gorgeous, loyal canine friend Sam, embarrassingly mirrors my own relationship with Discardia. Yes, we frolicked and forged. We went bananas with the vinegar; warding off any ill advised visitors and we made our bathtub clean enough to sleep in. We became obsessed, circular in our reasoning and unwilling to consider viewpoints that might destroy our tenuous grasp on our version of “hope”. Trying out various “vaccines” to inoculate us against a supposed evil race of clutter zombies, which oddly enough were inadvertently unleashed through a chain of events whose initial goal was to create order. Though the audience is shown Neville trying to find a cure to revert these Zombies to something resembling humanity and restore order, there’s something incredibly chilling about his decidedly inhumane means of doing so. Will Smith’s performance is brilliant because he is able to effectively leverage his Will Smithness to lure viewers into a seemingly straightforward sci-fi action flick. Even I was fooled! Did not anticipate, despite being fully versed in the source material, how much the film would clarify the meaning of the title “I am Legend”, which I have never thought was complimentary as used in this case. Well meaning as my intentions were, I had become increasingly dogmatic about my practice and ruthless in my execution, without being strategic.

In rethinking my practice of Discardia I am at a crossroad. I am suspicious of my desire to relentlessly clutterbust, yet still convinced it is a practice applicable to my life. Clearly the goals and scope of practice need to be expanded in order to incorporate my new-found “I Am Legend” framing and I’m eager to see where this expansion leads! With a month before the season – which coincides with Winter Solstice – begins, perhaps my first big goal of Discardia is to let go of an interpretation of a practice, which has left me with more desires than it has relieved.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 20, 2010 5:00 pm

    I am envious that you can actually give away things like that. I have tried. Its painful.

  2. hsofia permalink
    November 24, 2010 1:23 am

    I think I’m going to see if I can rewatch this movie at the in-laws’ this weekend. It’s been a while.

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