The very first thing I downsized was my books.
I had a lot of books. And I had a lot of knickknacks and trinkets that sat on the shelves around my books.
And the more I added to the shelves, the greater the anxiety and stress it produced.
“But… But… they are books!”
I’ve heard that from so many people. It seems like every time I tell the story of my minimalist beginnings, people get really worked up over the fact that I ditched my books.
But I didn’t get rid of all of them. I kept a few.
Here’s the thing, I love reading. I love the feel of the paper, the smell of the binding, and the sound of the turning pages in a book. I love the softness of the type on my eyes. I love the artistic nature of a book jacket. I love the act of sitting down with a cup of tea to lose myself in a good read.
I love books.
I love them so much that my life had become overrun by them. I had books on shelves, books in closets, and books in drawers. On top of the books, I had all kinds of little odds and ends stacked on the bookshelves. The dust bunnies were piling up. And, with the exception of a very select few, I never read the books more than once.
I bought them.
I read them.
And then I stored them.
And it was stressing me out. My space had become uncomfortable. I didn’t even realize that a space could get that way, until one day (and I was reading a book when I discovered this – ironic!) it just did.
So I asked my husband to go through the books with me. He agreed. We got a few boxes and we went shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer, closet by closet.
I whittled my book collection down to the very best of the best. I only kept my favorite few authors and my favorite few Bibles. Yes, I said Bibles. I think I had somewhere near twenty at that time… and you really only need one if you are actually reading it. Maybe another if you have your church Bible and then a study Bible for at home. So, yes, I got rid of excess Bibles. And I felt guilty for it at first, until I realized that faith isn’t in the number of Bibles owned, it’s inside me, but I digress…
By the time we were done clearing the shelves, we had multiple boxes and even a few bags full of things to donate and sell. My husband took the things out to the garage and I breathed.
Not just normal breathing, but the kind of breathing that brought with it peace. It was the kind of breathing that let me know that I had finally figured something out – something very important…
Books are things.
They are items that serve a purpose at a time. They can be a source of joy and encouragement, and they can even be friends when you feel lonely. But they are still just things. And like all things, they can take over the space in your heart and in your mind. And when they take over space that is necessary for other parts of life to be full, well, that is when those things are no longer serving their purpose.
I had finally found it in me to release the pull of things.
While I do still have some books, and I have purchased a few more since the initial downsizing, I no longer have the stacks of them that I used to. And I frequently go through the ones I do own and donate what I feel no longer serves a purpose in my life. Gone are the days of looking at bookshelves and feeling the anxiety and stress I used to feel. That’s one area of my life where minimalism has provided peace.