Securely Empty Trash

Last week I was running along the towpath towards Kingston. Just before I reached Kingston bridge, I saw this amazing collection of twisted metal and debris like a modern piece of art. It had all been pulled out of the river the day before by some enterprising chaps, either with a sense of wellbeing towards the river, or out of total lock down boredom. I took several pictures creating a dangerous pedestrian zone where self-isolation took second place to picture taking. I was grateful that I’d managed to capture this spontaneous moment of water junk as the following day when we cycled passed it had been removed, more than likely by some unimaginative council initiative fearing it to be a health and safety hazard.

It reminded me that there is beauty and purpose in junk. In daily routines on our computers we are constantly trashing, removing and throwing things away. I often trash items and then check to see if I really want to throw them away. Often while composing, writing and recording, the trash gets full by default especially when adding audio files to a project. It’s not like filling one bag and then throwing it away for someone else to sort, it’s a constant activity.

I’ve often wondered where it goes to when we securely empty the trash on our computers. Is there a digital purgatory, like a virtual left luggage depot, where unsuspecting geeks are sent before entering the pearly gates? Their task to sort out and decipher unfinished letters, incomplete songs, half written lists and discarded software? It’s a scary thought.

We must not be afraid of throwing things away. It’s a good thing to clear the decks and start with a clean slate, screen, project, idea. I have in the past accidentally erased or trashed complete projects having spent hours working on them, deadline looming and then instead of saving I erased. After the obligatory rant and destruction of small objects lying nearby, I started again and had to believe that this version would be far better than the original now lying in an irretrievable twilight zone. I really had no choice.

And then there would be the distressed cry that went up when I’d had enough ‘stuff’ lying around the house “Bin-liner!”. I’d be out with the black bag sweeping up anything and everything in my path, my family hanging on to valuables as I completed my obsessive course of action.

It’s always cathartic to start a new day with a new project and a clean trash can. Allow the junk of yesterday to remain there or be completely thrown away. Nothing is that important, even if it was the perceived masterpiece you accidentally binned. The bikes, trollies, prams and metal barriers that had been rescued, had already been useful in the past. But so often life is too short to clean and reuse them. So much easier starting again. Your trash, whether digital or analogue, once started out as new, shiny, valuable and exciting. But now replaced by newer and better.

Treat your compositions and productions in the same way. Obviously be careful and back up safely, but never be afraid to discard the obvious and take the risk to create for the moment. Be excited, creative and never fear Securely Emptying Trash.