Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Things That Anchor Us In Place

I woke this morning from inside of a dream about moving into an empty house and having no possessions. The first thing I intended to get was a pot and pan set and groceries. Yesterday, for the first time in quite a while I made a set of strides in my move toward minimalist possessions. I managed to throw out two bags of stuff - mostly old software and software manuals. I also managed to get rid of a box of books, freeing up a shelf on my bookcase.

I love reading so I have a tendency to acquire books, both in regular book form and on my Kindle. I am trying to move more and more of my library over to the Kindle, both for convenience and for space. I've resolved to try and keep my book collection down to a single bookcase (with five shelves) and it keep threatening to spill over.

I am generally keeping books that fall into a handful of categories - poetry collections, books on writing, philosophy/religion, reference books, and art books. Most of the other books, fiction and non-fiction, I tend to read once and than just hang onto. There is really no need to hang onto them since most of them I am never going to re-read.

When I went through my great purge a year ago, I ended up with about a dozen boxes in the spare bedroom closet. Now I am working my way through them and unfortunately, they had been proving more difficult to sort through and more difficult to actually dispose of. I pulled out four of the boxes to look at them yesterday - they contained mostly miscellaneous "stuff". Two of the boxes contained unused office and academic products - binders, folders, tablets, noteboks, etc. Two of the boxes contained older reference manuals. The stuff is basically worthless - of no particular value. Most of it is old. It is not in particular good shape - but my brain keeps telling me it is potentially valuable and I shouldn't through it away - even though I know it is of little to no value, even to a charity.*

But, I could not part with those boxes yesterday. I went back and forth inside that part of my mind where these items remained attached. I managed to move them out into the living room - and then one at a time I moved them back into the closet. Then, I stopped myself and pulled them out into the living room. They are sitting over against the wall, waiting for the recycle bin to be emptied Monday morning, so I can cart them out and drop them off.

The resolve to finally do it, to finally dispose of them, came in large part from T.R., my frequent touchstone on the road to a simplified lifestyle. In conversation I mentioned my struggle and she responded that such things become anchors that hold us in place, I liked that analogy - in the case of the stuff in these four boxes, it is very true. This stuff has no value. It's just stuff. I am not using it. It's been sitting in boxes for over a year. And yet, like an anchor, I could not bring myself to throw it over the side of the boat, simply because I thought at some point I might need it. The reality is, if I need it, I can replace it. But I am not going to need it.

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