Saturday, May 25Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Landfill of the Soul

An instruction from the accommodation services details the meticulous levels of cleanliness I have to achieve by 10 am on the day of departure.

It is as I undergo this next stage of sanitising my frankly depraved living conditions, emptying the contents of my small bin, that a realisation struck me; my entire academic term can be defined by the goods I am disposing of.

As I ferreted through the thrown-away, I noted an increase in the amount of screwed up paper, seemingly anonymously discarded. This to me shows a new reluctance to accept anything less than perfection, whilst the subject matter of the screwed up paper – of philosophy, of article ideas, of drawings – acted as a perfect demonstration of the person I am trying to become. Pretty profound stuff for items whose new temporary residence define them as ‘crap’.

Peeling off the Fruitti Tutti chewing gum and the accompanying ensnared hair, I open a ball of paper. I chance upon a short story I once attempted, about a single un-extraordinary day of an un-extraordinary man and a woman in my conception of a ‘Perfect City’. It found its way into the cold failure of the bin because of sheer lack of extraordinariness, maybe too few unlikely vampire-human experiences were included. The fact that it is not revolutionising the vampire-human dominated literary world of today does not upset me; it enthralls me because I wrote it, me, and the bin has made me remember this. I will be so bold as to venture that this was the most joyous moment ever shared between a man and his bin.

New weaknesses, indulgences and vices creep into my new daily life and the bin holds this up like a mantelpiece. Some discoveries are less concerning; the fact that Kit-Kat duo wrappers outnumber apple cores 3:1 is of relatively little worry. Other discoveries bear a heavier measure of discomfort. The ‘few too many’ 20 packs of Marlboro Reds reveal to me that university has not taught me universal self-discipline. Perhaps I have become increasingly weak willed, searching for easy rebellion through the consumption of goods under the category ‘scorned by parents’, rather than adhering to the recommendations of scientists far cleverer than I, discretely informing me that SMOKING KILLS.

Disclaimer: it is not a regular occurrence for me to excavate bins, please believe me. The reason I did so, was this. I suffer with the affliction I’m sure most people my age suffer from, of ‘finding myself’, a phrase that not only infuriates me but infatuates me. Therefore, when looking into the bin and observing the items I have consumed and disposed of as they fall lethargically into another container, I see my term fall before me. For what can be more personal than my bin? It seems strange I know, and I don’t for a moment expect the quote “you are what your bin reveals you to be” to be scrawled onto historical artifacts worldwide.

But I implore you to examine the traces you leave behind. Look at the precise contents of your bin, what you have thrown on your desk, how you have arranged your space of living, your world, how you do your day and how you live your life, because that, defines you.

“Stand up and walk out of your history”- Phillip McGraw