Tuesday, March 18, 2008

get rid of it!

Having come from a family of hoarders, it's not easy for me to let go of things. It used to be that I could guarantee going to my mom's and finding that jar of peanut butter, or Ovaltine, or you name it, untouched since my last visit. And my dad's collection of magazines and toothpicks is such that he can't even have passengers in the back seat of his car.

In my adult life I've been acutely aware of this tendency to hold onto things, and so it's been a slow and steady process of learning how to let go, first of all, and then actually finding the joy in letting go.

I'm sharing my spring cleaning story because it's about books. I took two carloads of books to the recycling center this weekend, where the book vultures nearly jumped into the bins where I was doing my unloading. The fact that one of them cried out, "This is the Motherload!" actually helped me stop feeling like I was abandoning a child. Seriously.

For years I've been collecting books for what I dreamed would be the eventuality of having a library to rival the likes of Jackie O., or Joan Didion, or Susan Sontag. Every time I've read an article about some famous, accomplished woman who had a library, it served as motivation to hold onto those hundreds of books, many of them in boxes I hadn't opened in years. I've moved more times than I care to count, and they've always come with me, even as the collection continued to grow. I do work in book publishing, after all.

Anyways, they're gone. And I cut off my hair on Friday, too. And I feel lighter. Physically. Spacially. Emotionally. Who knows if I'll ever even have the space to house a library anyways. Not to mention that those books have been more of a burden than anything, and I've coveted them, I think, as some measure of my worth. It's odd. I don't think anyone ever once commented that I had an amazing collection of books. So were the books for me or about me?

If you feel compelled to share something huge you let go of and were better off for, let us know. Who knows, maybe there's an anthology in here somewhere.



Tara said...

Seriously! We are a society of hoarders. It's amazing how many storage places exist to put all your crap that has overflowed from stuffed closets and garages. Living in a tight space with extremly limited storage for a few years now has forced me to rid myself of anything I don't really need. It feels so good to be free of random stuff. Apparently, this has been around for awhile but I was just introduced to www.freecycle.org which is a great way to get rid of stuff you don't want, quickly and pass it on to someone that does : )

Rachel said...

I'm not quite at the getting rid of stage yet, and your post actually prompted me to look up some books about hoarding on Amazon. I am one of those people who needs professional help, but isn't quite at the point where I can get it. Brooke, I'll send you a photo, if you want - it might scare you though. Sometimes it scares me but it gets so insurmountable I am not quite sure how to tackle it. Kindof like life, I guess. :)

kimmi said...

13 Thursdays, a plan I came up with years ago for my family, might help ;). Basically it’s all about ‘simplifying.’

Each member of my househould must bring me 13 objects every Wednesday, things such as their ‘toys,’ clothing etc… items which they no longer use, preferably their ‘wants’ not ‘needs’. No whining allowed. It is then separated into two piles, donations and trash, then donated or put out to trash Thursday morning.