I am on the phone with my mother. She casually mentions that she is renting a storage space to hold some of her books. My Mom owns enough books to fill a small public library.
“Mom! You can't be serious. It doesn't make sense to pay money for a storage space. You have a house.”
“The house is too full. There’s no room. That is why I am renting the storage space.”
“But, Mom. That’s crazy. What about the basement?”
“Full. And, before you ask, the barn is full, too.”
“It is a big barn, Mom.”
She is right, of course. The barn is filled floor to ceiling with treasures that haven't seen the light of day in years and couldn't be located if her life depended on it, yet she can't part with any of them. How did her life get filled with so much stuff that there isn't room for the things she really loves, like her books?
As I wonder how my Mom will even be able to read her books now that they reside in a storage unit, my thoughts turn to my own stash of books. Eight oversized cardboard boxes filled with books that I haven’t seen since the movers placed them on our sleeping porch (a.k.a. my junk room) when we moved into our house over six years ago. I feel profound sadness. What good are those books doing sitting in boxes where no one can read them?
“Wait a minute,” my best friend sighed into the phone. “You are giving all of your books away because you don't want to be like your Mom?”
“This isn’t about my Mom.”
“Really? Your Mom rents a storage unit to house her books and the very next day you decide to donate all of your books to charity. You don’t see any connection?”
“Maybe this is a little bit about my Mom, but it is mostly about me. I need to find a better way to live.”
The boxes easily weigh over 50 lbs. and are too heavy for me to move. I go through each one and stack the books into piles on my office floor. I look at the mountains of books and tell myself over and over again that I can’t keep everything. I decide to keep only the books I will read again. Except nothing is ever that easy.
Eight weeks later I remind myself of the vow to streamline my life. I look at all the books still sitting on my office floor and question my commitment. Donating the books to the Downtown Women’s Center is the right thing to do. It will give someone else the opportunity to enjoy them much more than I have these past six years. I whisper, “I can’t keep everything!” one last time and load my books into the car.