Some purges are undertaken voluntarily, some are forced upon you. When I was moving furniture around to wash the recently flooded studio floor I found my old portfolio of design work. I hadn't remembered that it was there. It had been sitting wet for over a month, next to the box of printed examples from which I had made it in the first place. Every single thing in box and folder was damaged at least, most were ruined.... All the evidence of my career in graphic design was glommed together in a pulpy mass, or delaminating from the boards it was mounted on, discolored and moldy. I have to admit, I just fell apart when I saw it. It was as if all those years and all that work had come to nothing, that everything had been lost.
After the storm was over, I realized that nothing I really needed was gone at all. Although I worked as a graphic designer as recently as two years ago, this is not really what I am interested in anymore. I have received the education I was meant to glean from designing printed stuff for other people and now I am trying to apply it in a different direction, for myself. The portfolio is really just a memento of a time now passed...it wasn't even useful when I looked for work. (Portfolios are in electronic form now and to even show one like this is to brand yourself a design dinosaur.) There was more than one embarrassing project that I was glad to get rid of...it was garbage when I made it, but I always felt I should hang on to it to remind myself of past errors and point the way to future improvement...a sort of penance for bad design. It is great to release myself from that obligation and chuck that crap, as I should have done years ago.
To step back even further, none of this was going to last anyway. Printed materials like posters and newsletters are ephemera, meant for the moment. (That is one of the reasons I switched to textiles...they have longer lives and deeper engagement in their construction and use.) I myself am not going to last and no one but me cares about this pile of paper.
The final service my ruined portfolio performs is to remind me to make, and live right now. We activate and energize our world moment by moment, stitch by stitch, kiss by kiss. Hanging on just holds us back.