Systems: Week One of the Digital Detox

I’m at 36, 285 photos. That’s a bit more “a few hundred.”

Because numbers are not my gig, I’ll speak in metaphor. My iPhoto album is the Himalayan Mountains, a faraway place too exotic, too surreal to even begin to approach. Its hazy mirage has me ignoring closer mountain ranges compiled of emails and virtual relationships.

What’s that saying? The “journey of a thousand miles begins with” what?

A single step.

On the edge of an unconquered mountain range, this is helpful wisdom. But, I know all about that “single step” business. When I finally muster the courage to start, I’m pretty good at taking that first step. It’s the rest which elude me.

If I hope for transformation, I must commit to taking that first step, the next one, and the next one after that. This will require determination, and purpose fuels determination.

If I can’t answer why, my noble resolve to make steady progress fizzles out.

Let’s take this concept and apply it to the task at hand: photos. Why am I concerned with their ghastly amount? Of course, I’d like to have space on my devices, but most of all, I’d like easy access to memories. My dream is a series of albums ready to show my children, ready to print, even. This dream compels me to filter out the junk that’s accumulated, and drives me develop a system that keeps my dream alive.

Compelled.

Driven.

Full of dreams.

These are good things, but just as purposelessness keeps progress at bay, so does loftiness. My good intentions mean nothing if I do not take that first step. With a stormy sea of photos awaiting the calm of control, the first step is to determine The System.

I mentioned designating The Categories first, but picture this. With categories ready, you start at your oldest photo. It’s the first of two thousand you took in Paris. The next series of photos features your kitchen remodel a month after your trip. It goes on like this until you reach photo number 36, 285 on Christmas Eve 2022. By then, you’ll have 10,000 more!

No, before we can talk categories, we need to develop the system. It will ebb and flow as the process goes, but with a mountain range to pass, we have to develop something fast.

A while back, my friend committed to checking her recent photos each night. Any from that day that did not deserve to stay were deleted. That’s a doable system. It’s the new system I pledge to try.

Maybe you’ll pledge to pause your photo taking until Christmas Eve 2022, long enough to get the entire mess under control.

Maybe you’ll transfer your photos to an external hard-drive.

Or print them off at Walgreens. Store all one million in a box for a rainy day. Start fresh tomorrow, a bit more mindful now of the moments you capture.

Whatever you choose to do, keep it manageable and realistic for you. If, after a week, you find your system fails, go back to the drawing board.

More on that later, for now looms a mountain range on the horizon, less hazy and impassable because we have a plan. We’re not starting at the peak; we’re starting at the trailhead. Let’s commit to the first few steps and let’s do them well.

Why do you keep photos?

How will you make good choices today to keep their amount under control?

Please answer these questions below, in the Facebook Group “Life Out Here,” or on Instagram! Idea sharing is essential to a digital detox.

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