Those of you that follow the blog know that back in July, as I was kicking this little adventure off, I was also going through a season of minimalist purge. I spent the entire month de-cluttering my home, getting rid of old clothes, doing away with junk drawers, giving away pointless little items that were slowly taking over my home. The only word that I can use to describe the experience was “liberating”. It was as though with every item that left my house I found a new space in which I could breathe more deeply.
The process was not perfect. There were evenings that my craving to minimize my possessions resulted in debates with my wife, debates with myself. And as freeing as the whole ordeal truly was, there was (and is) one area of my life that I was not willing to purge. My book collection. Every evening as I began my nightly patrol for worthless artifacts, I would glance over at the large shelf that dominates our living room. “Not yet,” I would tell myself. And I would go excavate another area of the house.
Each time I ignored the towering collection of literature, I felt as though I was living a lie. I was a fraud. I was only willing to rid myself of possessions that did not mean anything to me. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that my motives were not nearly as false as I had once feared.
During the first few months of this new blog, I devoted some of my free time to reading other blogs of men who had, or were currently, going through a similar phase in life. I was inspired by their complete abandon of material possessions. These men had sold their homes, cars, furniture. They had quit their jobs to pursue more fulfilling work. They had downsized wardrobes to only a few simple items. I felt as though they had stepped onto the shores of Thoreau’s little pond and found a place to sit and talk quietly beside its waters.
But looking back, just a couple of months later, I see now why these men’s stories were so inspiring to me. It wasn’t that they were ridding themselves of possessions (although I do still admire them for that). It was that they were making it a point to surround themselves with what gave them purpose, where they saw value, what they felt was important in life.
So where am I going with this?
All this to say. My book collection is safe and sound. Still towering in our living room. I finally let myself pause and truly reflect on why this ridiculous accumulation of pages was so important to me. And I realized something. My books are a unique insight into what I value. Staring back at me when I peruse the shelves I see glimpses of my faith, of my desire to travel, of my love for quiet mornings and distant shores. My book collection is a physical representation of my innermost being. And I really like that. I take great joy (free from arrogance) in inviting people into my home to look at my books and perhaps select something to borrow. It is the librarian in me I guess.
I love the fact that one of my silly fantasy fiction novels is currently being read in a coffee shop halfway across the world by my buddy Ryan, while he devotes his life to the people of Istanbul. (You can read his blog here). I love the fact that my new colleague at work, Paige, is finally reading the sci-fi novel that I promised her would hold her attention. (She loves it by the way.) I take extreme joy, and find great value in sharing the hidden secrets of who I am with the people I love.
So, because of that, my books are safe. Yes, I am sure there will come a time when I prune my collection a bit. But for now, they remain. Perched at the far end of my living room, reminding me of past joys, deep heartfelt truths, and faraway places. You should come over. I’ll show you.