Encyclopedias & Other Precious Stuff

Yikes. It’s been over two months since my last post.  I’m trying to not feel delinquent.  I have lots of excuses.  Tell me you’ve missed me!

Mostly, I’ve been consumed by stuff.  My stuff.  Our stuff.  Our kids’ stuff.  Our parents’ stuff.  Work stuff.  Stuff from decades past & from last week.  Consequences of inertia & consumption & our human-as-consumer culture.  Stuff I’m trying to shed.  Recycle.  Let go.  Release.

It’s mostly the stories that are consuming.  The preciousness of an object is proportionate to its emotional packaging.  Stories are us!  How can I shed the object http://justanotheramericanprincess.blogspot.com/2013/10/gorgeous-venice-italy.htmlwithout also shedding the story?  No, I can’t let this thing go – my life’s in there!  Or that thing either – I might need it someday. It’s actually a relief to pick up something relatively useless that evokes no readily-retrievable memory…quick – into the recycle bag!  Whew.

The clothes closet is probably the easiest – though most females hold out hope eternal of being able to fit into those supple old jeans.  CD’s & old tapes…huh, what are those??  (I lie – we do still have a working CD player.)  Handwritten journals, ugh: a major source of anxiety…tucked away in an old grocery bag, waiting for their author to have the nerve to toss it into a random dumpster (although burning has more dramatic appeal).

The books & old encyclopedias are the hardest.  These wonderful tomes I intend to but probably never will read, or, tbt, ever crack open again.  My friend Lisa recounts an axiom she heard: if we read about one book a month (or week or year…this = X) & estimate that we have Y number of months/years left (…an unknown, usually, but make a guess), we’ll read about X x Y more books in our lifetime.  Hence, we can shed all the rest.  A sobering calculation for those of us who still read books.

Not to mention the artwork that’s surrounded us for so many years.  Local Santa Cruz & family artists have been well-represented on our off-white walls, but what would someone else do with this colorful collection?  In my attempt to go simpler, I’ve put only about half of the artwork back up after the deferred home maintenance project (inspiration for this current shedding exercise, btw), but the rest rests against a wall in the guest room.  I’m trying to talk my friend Suzanne into hanging some of it in her home…knowing it’s living somewhere would be almost as good as seeing it everyday myself.

I’ve felt a little smug all these years about the benefits of a small house – not much space to accumulate…or so I thought.  Ergo, it’s been a shock to really understand how much stuff has slowly piled up, & how difficult it is to let go.  Ergo, the blogging drought.

Since incrementally is usually the only way humans will willfully change, I now have a new daily ritual: select at least one (yes, it can be small) pile or file or basket or box per day & deal with it – stories & all.  Well, most days anyway.  It can be exhausting, & I’m not even moving.

And then there’s Ritual #2:  appreciate the open(ed) space.  Avoid refilling.





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9 Responses to Encyclopedias & Other Precious Stuff

  1. Jean Brocklebank says:

    Omigosh, Linda. You penned me/us to a T. Everything you said. All of it. Everything. And I know our home is smaller than yours, but, oh golly, we’re right there with you. (I guess this rules out passing any of our stuff to you). Something about a naturalist living with a museum curator…a good enough excuse for us. Old folks liking old stuff :o]

    Yes, I missed your delightful observations and the way you pen them. Welcome back!

  2. Linda says:

    Me too! Just went through that and I still have half a garage full of stuff!

  3. Robin Baker says:

    Yes, we HAVE missed your posts!!
    And I can relate to this one, too. I am getting ready to give up my office at the U sometime in the not too distant future and have started culling the 30+ years of accumulation, trying to avoid a last minute purge. It is actually fun to spend just 10 minutes a day going through one drawer or shelf. As you say…so many stories. I try to enjoy the memory and then let go lightly. (But there is always scanning if it is just too good a story…one I may want to revisit.)

    • liveoaklinda says:

      wow, letting go of your office…that was intense for me too, a decade ago (yikes!). letting go lightly is something i’m still aspiring to – thanks for the reminder.

  4. Ginger Downs says:

    Yes, I missed you and your right-on blogs!

  5. liveoaklinda says:

    i’m still working on this, every day: something goes. it’s intense. i don’t think i’m ‘letting go lightly’ however…more like compulsively at this point. but i spend time when needed: the other day i read birthday cards from 10 years ago; thank you my friends.

  6. Pingback: Evolution for Everybody | the everyday primate

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