You’ve probably heard the old joke that goes, “I can’t die until I’ve read all my books — so I’m going to live forever.”
I certainly resemble that remark. Books to me represent potential: A new world to be explored, a new idea to be considered. It’s tremendously difficult for me to to say to a book begging to be purchased, “I don’t have time for you.” And that’s just to the books that interest me. There are a thousand times as many books out there, books that were someone’s labor of love, that I walk right by. I feel vaguely bad about that, too. I don’t want to be a person who insulates herself inside the familiar. But where to get the time to consume all those interesting ideas?
And where do I store them until I get to them?
I’m not what most people would consider a hoarder, but I understand (a little) how it starts. Until you actually get rid of something you haven’t closed the door on the possibility that you might use that thing, or read that book again (or for the first time). Fortunately, in addition to my desire to acquire books, I also have the need for a serene and uncluttered environment. I think better when papers aren’t threatening to avalanche onto the floor. Clutter makes me feel claustrophobic.
It feels a little like having a split personality. My house is generally tidy, but wherever I work starts to look like a nest built of papers and books. After a while this starts to bother me, and I purge until I can again see the clear surface of my desk and the table beside my chair. It never lasts, though. It’s as if an evil fairy waves her wand while my back is turned, and the papers dance their way back to their starting places.
Possibly this nesting fills some need, but I think it’s also just a lack of focus, the natural consequence of an, “I’ll take care of that later,” mentality.
So this is one of my goals this year: to accept that I can’t get to everything, and that I’ll be happier focusing on a few important things and acting on them. That a serene environment is important to me, and worth my time. To that end, I’m applying the ten minute solution to my “nests” everyday. The kitchen counter has already been cleared, as has the “landing zone” of my desk. Now I need to attack the “to be filed” pile that’s years old.
As for the excessive number of books making my shelves groan, I’ll take care of them later. 🙂
Ask me in June how I’m doing.