What’s the Six-Pack Holding You Back?

I recently had some friends over for dinner. The night before, I bought a bunch of food and drink. I needed room in my fridge, so I removed a six-pack box that had one beer left. The box sat on my fridge’s top shelf for a while, and it kept that position solely due to some sentimental value attached to it. I didn’t want to throw it out, but at the same time, I needed somewhere to put my new supplies—and those were perishable. Thus, I put the box aside, filled up my fridge with my groceries, and went about my day. 

The next morning, as I groggily prepared myself breakfast, I opened my fridge door. Something seemed off. The inside of my fridge looked bigger now. I had so much space! Did my friends and I really eat that much food the previous night? Was something missing? Or taken? I was perplexed. It took a couple trips, but it finally dawned on me: That six-pack box wasn’t in there anymore. I had gotten so used to it over the past couple months, it basically became part of my fridge. Even though the box was taking up room and doing nothing productive, I eventually grew used to it— to the point I didn't even notice its presence. It took a need—i.e., space for my friend dinner food—to inspire the change. But now that the change happened, my fridge was better for it. The box would not be making a return.

The point of this anecdote isn’t to remind you to look check your fridge, or clear out your closet, or do any sort of actual cleaning. Rather, it is to ask yourself: What are you holding on to that you don’t really need? As a packrat, I can argue just about everything I hold on to is important and has meaning to me (all my junk brings joy), so I understand how hard it is to let go. And not everything has to be banished with extreme prejudice. But if you needed to get rid of something temporarily, and you can’t even remember it the next day—heck, you even find life is better without it—then that could be a sign that the object/feeling/emotion/memory needs to be let go.  

I held on to that box because of the memories associated with a person who used to be in my life. And maybe, in a way, continuing to hold on to that box was holding me back mentally or emotionally. That may be some Instagram-level psychology, but at the end of the day, my fridge is better off with the space—and my heart and mind are better off moving forward too. It’s OK if not everything stays around forever. Even if we’d like it to. 

*Gulp*

*Gulp*

I took a big swig of beer. As the cool suds rushed down my throat, I pondered some important considerations. There are really only a few ways to drink beer, I decided. You don’t really sip a beer, with one notable exception being if your friend allowed you to try some of hers. You can chug a beer, though unless you’re a frat boy/sorority girl, you should probably only do that for something that doesn’t taste very good. (Tangential question: If it doesn’t taste good, why are you drinking it?) You can nurse a beer, especially when you reach the latter half of your second pint and you don’t want to pay for another. But really, in my humble opinion, beer is meant for swigging. But that’s just me. You drink your beer as you want.  

These thoughts were my companions at a local bar in Berkeley recently. It was a quiet weekday evening, I had just finished some work, and when faced with the decision between sitting in traffic or sitting in a brewhouse, it was an easy choice.

*Gulp*

I toggled between scrolling through my phone—I was reading an article on The New York Times about how the art of disagreement was dying—and staring blankly at nothing in particular. I decided to put my phone away and focus exclusively on the latter. After all, in our modern age, life rarely affords us quiet moments of contemplation. I chose to take it.

*Gulp*

I thought about the events that transpired to bring me to this moment. Not just what happened that day, or that week, or that month, or even that year. I thought about the times I spent here in Berkeley, not as a student, but as a kid, when I would come here with my grandpa, dad, and brother. We would go to Cody’s Books on Telegraph, and I would always come away with a new book or magazine or some other sort of publication. Did those outings shape my love of writing? Maybe? (Maybe not--that sounds a little too cliche.) What I do know: I never appreciated those trips in the moment. I only realized how special they were years after they passed.

*Gulp*

I reflected on a recent afternoon spent with my former high school geometry teacher. Imagine that—hanging out with someone who taught you how to think about the spatial world from a mathematical perspective. Numbers don’t stick with me for long, but fortunately, people usually do. My teacher and I talked and laughed and reflected and nodded knowingly for hours. Even today, he is still teachingme lessons. Even today, I am still willing to learn.

*Gulp*

I started thinking about what I was going to write for my blog. It's important to me to be able to publish something at least once a week. I wrote a rough draft about the theory of relativity—it’s not what you think—but I didn’t like how it read. It felt too forced, too contrived. That said, I still saved it. You never toss out writing because it always holds potential—it could turn out being the first step into something else. Writing is versatile and unpredictable like that. It just wasn't time for that particular piece yet.

*Gulp*

The thing was, there were a lot of things to write about, but I didn’t feel ready to comment on them yet. And when you write something personal, you must feel it or else it isn’t worth doing. That’s the big difference between writing professionally and writing for yourself. When it’s for business, it needs to get done—the feels don’t matter. That’s why they call that kind of writing “Content”—because it’s content with merely existing. But when you write for yourself, it must stir your soul in some way. Otherwise, what’s the point?

*Gulp*

I called for the check. I had one more swig of beer left in my glass, so I might as well settle my tab now. The server seemed like a nice chap. I liked his hat—it was pointy. The black tights, I didn’t care for as much. Oh good: He saw me and is bringing the tab over now. I reach into my wallet for cash, withdraw a $20, hand it over, and wait for my change.

I resigned myself to the possibility that I might not have a topic to write about this week. Though I’m confident I’ll come up with something. If it’s important to you, you’ll make time for it and you’ll make it happen. That’s a lesson I know all too well.

Here comes my change. I’ll leave a nice tip—the beer came quickly, and he has a cool hat.

*Gulp*