I recently noticed that I have a three foot tall stack of workout books which I collected, and yes used, in my early 30’s. That was the time period I had been recording how much I lifted, ate, walked, biked and bent around in arguably unnatural positions in various Yoga classes. I was, in a word, fit. Time travel out 10 years over the course of a career and a move across the Country… and back again. I’m thankfully in relatively good health but a lot more skilled at what I do at the office than my bench press these days.
This realization was prompted after a day with Eddie and his sister at their parent’s house rearranging things, discarding a few items (chairs, books, periodicals, bookcases, vacuum cleaners). It was a delicate conversation about the things we collect over the course of a lifetime. Later on when Eddie and I arrived back at our own home is when I realized the truth that there was a stack of exercise books standing three feet tall on my own bookshelves.
Looking back to our conversation earlier I cited an article I had read in Martha Stewart Living, my mom sends these to us, titled “For the love of lightening up” by Miranda Silva. She spends a great deal of time on the emotional reasons we hang on to things. Old versions of ourselves, people we knew, events and the like. Of course there’s the ubiquitous mention of the disturbed hoarder. I’ve never really encountered one. Though I was told, privately, about my grand-dad having a more than ample inventory of briefs. Then there was my Great Aunt’s army sized pantry. I think that’s what Ms. Silva was talking about in her article though. Things that hold importance to us… and that fine balance between use and purpose.
Along similar lines there was an article printed in 2012 titled “Selling the Pared-Down Life,” Penelope Green about the founder of Trehugger.com Graham Hill’s endeavor to sell us on very small but ultra-functional living spaces. 420 sq. foot kind of things. Tiny.
She quoted him in a Ted Talk saying “Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.”
It was with the same tone of hesitation in Eddie’s families voices on our recent visit that I heard in my inner dialog about my three foot high stack of workout books. And then I asked myself why am I holding on to them? Which is when I looked into the Public Library and its donation policy. Even if they can’t re-purpose the tomes of dead lifts, pull ups and good mornings… I realized that I was only holding on to them because of some earlier version of myself and that, for now, it was time to let go and make room for more “space and energy.”
As an even earlier version of myself who studied forestry might have said, pruning brings new growth.
I still have my Great Aunt’s spoon rest… and use it every day.