Do you ever receive recommendations for anime or manga? When I do, I often answer with the generic response, “I’ll add it to my watchlist.”
Oh, the watchlist. What should be a wonderful group of entertainment choices instead becomes a terror, an ever-growing burden. At least that’s how I see it. Like the National Debt, it grows bigger and bigger; I’m adding to it a far quicker pace than I pay it off. There’s never a point in time where I can be absolutely free, for there’s always something to watch—usually many somethings. If you’ve been watching anime as long as I have, the list may be immense. I know mine was, at least until the day a few weeks ago when I decided to let it all go.
I did it. I just removed EVERYTHING from my "want to watch" list except for two anime. AND MY GOSH, did it feel good.
— Twwk (@thetangles) July 8, 2019
For such a minor life decision, it wasn’t an easy one. The list was full of well-acclaimed series and shows that I really, really wanted to watch (at least at one point in time). But I realized that I would never get to most of them, and as I mentioned above, that they were becoming a burden to me—a slight one, but still a burden. When I deleted all the “To Watch” anime from my list, I felt relief, so much so that I started expanding my purge to other parts of life! Discord servers? See ya. Instagram mutuals who haven’t logged on in forever? Bye bye.
This idea of minimizing your life is nothing new, though there’s some cultural momentum toward it these days fueled by one of the steps in Marie Kondo’s organization system. I haven’t watched much of her program, but I do get the idea of only keeping things that “spark joy,” as I realize that my proclivity toward being a pack rat has extended into the digital realm and needed to be dealt with.
But what’s perhaps the best part of starting to release some of the these digital burdens is that they prepared me for a more important decision, this one away from intangible things and otakudom and set in the reality of work and relationships. Recently, I’ve been challenged with the decision of whether to let a volunteer charge go or to still keep my hands on it in preparation (hopes?) of returning to a leadership role in the future. I received advice from a trusted friend to cut bait entirely, and for many reasons I felt it was the right decision, but my heart had a difficult time letting go.
I did eventually get there (sometimes between drafting this article and posting it, in fact)—it just took some time and thought. But because of my watch list purge, of all things, I think I’ve been prepared to let this go, to commit to an action for more significant and longer-reaching than a simple change in watch status for an anime. This isn’t a case of leaping in faith—it’s more look and make a little hop before you take the big leap.
One activity, as it often does, paved the way for another. And that appears to be the finest reason of all for letting go of endless titles of anime, as a pattern of something larger in helping me live my life: Delete, breath, learn, and thrive.
Featured illustration by ShenQ (reprinted w/permission)