I learn so much when I read, and right now I’m reading mystery novels by British author Colin Dexter. I’ve learned how medical examiners determine the time of death—something I’m hoping never to use. I’ve learned about the school examinations at Oxford, and most recently I learned a phrase I just love. The abbreviation for it is O.B.E. This abbreviation also stands for a British honor, namely the Order of the British Empire, but this is not the O.B.E. of which I speak.
I want to tell you about O.B.E., meaning OVERTAKEN BY EVENTS. The phrase comes up in these detective novels to qualify records and things that are so old that there is no need to go through them. I love this concept, and I’ve found it helpful in my own life. A lot of what I am sorting through as I pack can be classified as O.B.E.
Since I am working towards becoming more organized but am not yet there, I seemed to have saved a number of old pieces of mail. I have fliers for concerts that have long since passed and bills that I’ve already paid. I usually call my payments in to the phone company, so I don’t need the actual statements in front of me to satisfy my obligations. I love finding these sorts of things as I sort my possessions for the move—anything O.B.E can be tossed into the garbage without a laborious tug of war in my psyche about whether I need to retain it.
I also no longer need supplies for hobbies I don’t actively pursue or phone numbers for college acquaintances who were merely that. People can be O.B.E., too. There are only so many connections I can actively maintain. I carefully choose the friendships I want to nurture. Sometimes people fulfill a role in your life that is time-specific. When my best friend was a young mother with twin babies she was very active in a group for parents of twins. Now that her children have turned into adults, she only keeps in touch with a few of them with whom she has a special connection.
I’m enjoying my book immensely, but soon it will itself be O.B.E. Once I’ve read it I’ll pass it along to a friend. I hope she finds as many fun tidbits as I have within its covers.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
117. Are there people or items in your life that are O.B.E.? Clear the clutter! It’s helpful to ask yourself if you are keeping an item (or a person) in your life just because it happens to be there already. How does it feel to streamline?