Some Thoughts on Downsizing (& books)

If you didn’t have so much goddamn  stuff, you wouldn’t need a house. You could just walk around all the time.
– George Carlin

Simple and true.
If we didn’t have so much stuff, we could just grab our coats and go. Anytime. Walk some other pavements of this planet.

It’s optimistic, but still a nice idea that might be realizable for those of us who are neither bound to one particular workplace, nor have children or any other responsibilities keeping them in one place. But even then, there’re people out there doing it anyways – Leo Babauta, Niall Doherty, Raam Dev… all great writers/bloggers/inspirations. Somehow they manage to keep their belongings to a managable amount (or rather a ridiculously tiny amount, talking <100 physical objects – including pieces of underwear!).

I’ve always admired the extreme. So to get one step closer to this ideal I am (again) starting to downsize my belongings. It’s not about reaching some arbitrary number of objects, it’s about reaching your personal ideal – cutting out what’s superfluous. Clothes, books, dvd’s, magazines and any other kind stuff that has just been lying around my place for some time now. Books have always been the hardest, and I don’t just say that to make an extra intellectual impression – they are hard to trash/give away for several reasons:

  • There are some reference books which are meant to be used occasionally
  • Every time I reread a book I learn something new. Things I might have overread the first time or just wasn’t ready to hear back then. It’s interesting to see our perception change with time
  • They show your interests/taste/personality just as much as any paintings on your wall
  • Children’s books. The old one’s seem somewhat more classy than those new ones. So would you keep them around for your cousins/children/grandchildren/yourself to read?

On some minimalist blogs they suggest to step over to ebooks. Saving all your books onto this device leaves you with just one physical thing up your cupboard, even though it actually contains a whole library. Much like the little purse of Harry Potter’s Hermoine that seemed capable of collecting skyscrapers if she wanted it to.
I agree with the convencience factor. But it’s really not at all minimalistic! Stuffing computers, harddrives or USB-sticks with virtual stuff is not that different from hoarding shit in the basement. At least that’s what I think. It certainly won’t help you if you’re in this to regain a little ‘headspace’.

So what do we do with those books? Right now I’m considering: Giving them to the local library – if they take donations (I was pretty surprised to find out that many don’t!). Or just to keep passing them on to somebody I think might enjoy them (what I do now). Not sure what’s best, not sure if it even matters. Just somethings that has (again) been on my mind lately.


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