Sunday, December 14, 2014

Give This Book: Holiday Ideas 2014, Part 2

About a decade ago while out enjoying SXSW I received a phone call from my friend and then roommate that went something like this:

Me: Hello?
Friend: Hi. You have to come home; I think the house may have been robbed.
Me:  Why do you think the house may have been robbed?
Friend: Because the house was robbed.

Bless her heart; she was trying to do that thing where you break bad news in the most gentle of ways.

this song will now be
in your head
So, yeah my house was burgled and those little sons a bitches got a pretty good haul (relax book lovers, not one book was stolen so we can be pretty certain it wasn’t a gang of nerds). They took every ounce of booze in the house, my  old Minolta camera (which my mother tortured us with when were kids) and they cleared out over half my cd collection.  Like any civilized person my cds were alphabetized and A-O were stolen and yes, that included my Falco, Rock Me Amadeus extended mix single. Life just is not fair, I know that now.

I tell you this horrifically sad story for two reasons. First, teenagers simply can not be trusted. If you do trust them (and you should not!), prepare yourself for disappointment and fewer musical choices. Second, a day or two after the unfortunate incident, I actually felt a bit lighter which intrigued me. A few weeks later I found  a few of my rare cds at a used music shop here in town (I was doing the equivalent of looking for a lost dog and checking the pound every day).  I was told that I could buy the cds back at the store’s cost (if I produced my police report). Huh, buy my stolen goods back? It was the most tempting, most American thing ever, but I thought maybe I liked having fewer things and walked away.

Marie Kondo
From that incident on, I have made an effort to acquire less and get rid of more but it wasn’t until reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo that I was able to begin to turn the process of having fewer things into a life practice. I got rid of what I got rid of, some of it was easy (so long acid washed jeans with a rip at the knee, we were so good together once), some things were hard (can we work this out acid washed jean overalls with a rip at the knee). Other things were off the table and I think you know what I am talking about…the books. All the books, so many books, the books the books the books. Why didn’t those kids take these books? Rotten kids leaving me with all these

Marie Kondo prescribes holding each object in your hands, does this object, this thing, bring you joy? Obviously you cannot do this exercise if you’re drunk, holding a balled up pair of knee high striped socks with tears in your eyes and babbling something about Lollapalooza and 1998, it’s not helpful. And also, don’t ball up your socks anymore; there is a chapter on that in the book.

So, over a weeklong period I sat with a couple hundred books. I held each one, thanked the book, or in many cases wondered why I still had the book (lots of stinkers, let’s be honest), but I really had to meditate on what brought me joy. Was it the book, or was it the memory of the book, would I read the book again, did I need this physical book in my house? The answer was almost always, no and I began to purge nearly half my collection.

While there are certainly books that would painful for me to get rid of (my signed All Over But the Shoutin’ while not my favorite book, is very personal to me) and I know now that I can, I can get rid of any book in my house. Okay…that’s an overstatement but you see where I am going.

Most of us have too much, we do. We are drowning in it. So in this season of giving more stuff you can give the gift of letting go, having less, and moving on. This book helps you prioritize and rationalize why we keep things, why it’s so hard to let go, and why our lives are better with less clutter. And seriously, stop balling up those socks; they’ve been good to you.

Right now, both of my dogs are sitting at my feet and I just can’t help but think….is it one dog too many?

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading this book now and was fine with her admonishments until I got to the balled up socks and her horror. Um, excuse me? Plus girlfriend went just a bit too much into overdrive when she described her penchant for cleaning out every sentient being's possessions that she came in contact with as a girl. I'm still reading it but not with as much enthusiasm since she seems just a tad on the OC side. One man's hoarding is another man's obsessive compulsiveness. And, hey, I hope you were kidding about halving the dog population in your home. I'm sure both of those beings provide you with a gracious plenty of joy.