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Today’s word came to me as a question, and was followed shortly by the recurring invitation to ‘clear’ the clutter.  Simplicity is an ideal that I yearn for. Minimalism intrigues me, nay, it beckons to me like a siren at sea, lost as I am in an ocean of clutter.  I don’t wish to spend my life shuffling, organizing, and picking up ‘things’ (in fact, I find such chores to be sheer drudgery). I yearn for spaciousness .. inside and out.
Of course, my mind can be as cluttered as my surroundings. I can make the simplest of things complicated (like this assignment, for instance!) with over-analyzing and too-much-information gathering, following a trail of thoughts and ideas ad infinitum. However, on the flip side of that particular self-judgment rests the need to value my rapt curiosity, this fascinating connection-making brain of mine that finds life in all of its manifestations just so darned interesting.
Which brings me to this photo of piles of precariously balanced books on my bedroom floor. Carried to the second floor some 5 weeks ago, in order to clear the hallway for my husband’s ease of passage following extensive foot and ankle surgery, they remain stacked where they were dropped. Something in me felt that they should not simply be shoved back into the case, perhaps like pulling a thought out of my brain to turn over and decide if it still belongs. Besides, I’ve been wanting to pare down my collections of books.
But there they sit, a daily reminder, their beckoning faintly ignored.
While it feels laboriously tedious for me to spend my precious time organizing stuff (one of the reasons, ironically, that I am drawn to declutter), there is also something about taking things out of their hiding places that makes it difficult for me to just put them mindlessly back where they came from. Perhaps it is the touching of a thing that animates it, making it bigger than it was before…  like when a old thought or feeling or memory rises to be seen and you just can’t fit it back into the closet again. It’s time to let go.
Time to empty the trash.
I don’t know. My days certainly have been not been so full that there hasn’t been time to address those stacks. Its just that I really don’t know what I want to do with them. On one hand, I cling to old books as if they were holy grails! It feels sacriligious somehow to simply toss them aside. On the other, it’s not as if I am reading them! It is the idea of them that I love.
Earlier today, I read that in order to clear the space, you need to learn to ‘disidentify, detach and depersonalize’, and to ‘clear the you that you THINK is you in order to let the real you come forth”, which makes me wonder if some part of me has her identity too attached to this image of self . Perhaps, just perhaps, the thought of tossing them (or even donating them ) feels scary because it feels like turning my back on the self that I thought myself to be, and that feels frightening. Like a security blanket, outgrown, I cling to what no longer is needed.
Who am I now?
Last week, I had a long conversation with a friend around the topic of transformation, how it is that when a thing truly changes (as in the proverbial caterpillar/butterfly metamorphosis, for instance) so often it looks nothing at all like it did previously. As I look back on my own lifetimes (yes, it feels like many lifetimes to me from this vantage point, and this is at least my forth incarnation in this particular 53 year span of time) each lifecycle stage feels vastly different from the others, and I feel the shift happening in me again. These changes do not feel to me like turning the page to a new chapter in a book. Rather, they feel like separate books entirely.
There is some part of me whose siren-song I hear, beckoning me to get out of my head and into experience, to stop thinking about and start being– alive. I suspect this is the part that feels so very vibrant when she escapes the world of words out there on wilderness canoe trips where there are no books or computers, just tangible life rich with color and texture and scent and sound.  Then again there is an equally full-bodied song that beckons me to dive deep for the philosopher’s stone engraved with the words ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’…. the part that begins to feel unable to breathe when crawling too far out of the deep onto dry land.
I am a mermaid ,after all. 🙂
I could pack the books in  box and lug them up to the attic for storage, perhaps….that feels safe somehow, I suppose, less irreverently drastic. But somehow, I think it’s important to let go. Those particular books, and the basketfuls and piles in the corners of the living room, and the spare bedroom-cum-library whose 4 walls are lined with shelves have been sirening me for some time now.
Then again, perhaps there is nothing wrong with rooms full of books at all… I could easily name their value -that flip side of self-judgment, again .  After all, books are good, right? And I just bought a few new ones last week…
Hmmm, perhaps I am not so comfortable with emptiness, after all.

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