When we moved to Greece almost six years ago we came with 26 boxes. 26 small boxes, altogether about a 1.5 cubic metres. Oh, and 5 of those boxes were bicycles.
We had very little, as we gave a lot of stuff away, sold some more stuff and donated to charity. We felt light and moveable. It felt liberating not to be weighed down by stuff. It hadn't been a long process either - it came quite naturally to both of us and felt a little like a game: how small could we get our baggage into our new life to be?
I even overcame my aversion to giving away books and donated several boxes full to our local charity shop*. It felt good. I have hardly ever missed one of those books.
In this moment in our life, during the wait, we have made the decision to re-simplify. To declutter once more. Greece has marked a change in us, we consume a lot less than we ever did in London. That's partly attributed to "having gone off grid a little" and I did notice last time I was in the UK how everyone around me seemed to be wearing new clothes - my clothes looked tatty and old (and they are only 4 or 5 years old).
My intentions to simplify were bolstered by this post and this blog. It all made sense. It was just what we needed and as our life is about to get more complicated in other ways, well, it made quite a bit of sense to simplify in others.
I looked at the books, currently proud residents of what will hopefully become the "kids'" bedroom.
These are my books: the books I have collected over several years of reading, studying, university. The books that people have given me as presents, I have bought for myself, I have looked for in second-hand bookshops. I have cracked their spines and read them - I have enjoyed their company.
These are our books too - the ones we bought together as a couple, the ones we have read and discussed. How could I get rid of them?
I am still not sure what to do. The reality of the matter is I very rarely re-read a book. I love reading them the first time round, relish their company, dive into the content. Yet I don't like to go back - unless looking for a reference and rarely re-read a whole book.
And then of course there is my Kindle. And that too is full of books, electronic ones. And part of the reason I bought it is because it is much easier to buy English books in Greece in electronic form, but the other reason is that I was slowly becoming aware of the book-crisis in our house... We were running our of space!
And so I sit and contemplate and wonder if any of the advice in that article is useful to me. I make bargains (if I simplify our kitchen, then surely I can keep the books). I think of ways to get rid of them, but to also keep them (we have a big storage spot in our attic). I think how, one day, our kids might weant to read this book - in a way it is a legacy to all we have ever read, to all we have thought important.
I have not made a decision about the books yet. I keep them there, look at them, consider carefully what their future holds. And to date, I have not thrown a single one away!
*The decision is all the more complicate because there are no charity shops to donate these books and so I would have to throw them away. And there is a big part of me that feels that books should never ever be thrown away! Hmmm... I think we are doomed to live in a library!