To Purge, Or Not To Purge


Letting Go #12

My life as a purger is being threatened. Somehow, I have allowed an accumulation of books to build to an uncomfortable level (chin level to be exact). Usually this is solved by one of our cyclical moves (the husband and I tend to move every alternating four or six years). It’s a well-known fact that books in boxes get very heavy, and we’ve moved enough times to lighten the load, which is saying something about a couple of English majors. So, we’re at the end of our latest six-year stint in this particular abode–and guess what? We can’t move, at least not right now with the state of real estate what it is.

However, being a freak-of-nature minimalist (compared to my family of origin) who deals with change and diversity by getting rid of stuff, my purging alarm sounded off quite some months ago. Duty called in the simplicity department. This spring I succeeded in ridding my space and consciousness of much material clutter at the annual June church yard sale which is without doubt my favorite sporting event. The joy of the hunt to find as much as possible. The good old “one year” rule applied with ruthless precision. That feeling of lightness you get when you realize that will be the last time you have to mow around something. Piece of cake. But what remains the biggest hurdle are the tomes.

You’d think that since I work in a library, I wouldn’t need so many books. And you’re absolutely right. Logically, I can get everything I need at my place of employment, provided that there’s still a copy left somewhere in the system, not to mention the wealth of material online. It’s been great to check out my latest obsessions without shelling out a small fortune at the local bookstore chains for a subject which is a passing phase. And believe me, other than family and friends, nearly everything in my life is a passing phase. Sometimes I even re-pass myself. But at the library, there are due dates and fines (yes, even for employees) and often I don’t finish because I’m a slow reader. Or I forget what website I was on.

Today’s purging was surprisingly gut-wrenching, as I stared at the shelves of astrology, numerology, tarot and other metaphysical books I’ve been splurging on for twenty-five years. You see, I used to teach these subjects and justified the purchases as additional reading for my students or reference material for me. I’ll go ahead and admit I haven’t read two-thirds of these books. And since the adult education program that sheltered my classes has all but disappeared due to lack of funding, I can no longer justify the space they take up.

And I’m on a new path now, no surprise. So, I kept the old friends, and gently packed up the unread flashy newcomers, the odd and kind of creepy singletons, the pre-packaged dummy books full of general stuff I can look up online, and the wild card ones of the “I have no idea why I bought this” ilk.

All to be loaded in the car–and donated to the library book sale. Yep, now I’m starting to get that euphoric rush!

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