Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bible Study Epiphanies, Possessions, and the Kindle

Anyhow, how did my Bible Study last night relate to me seeking "a quiet life"? I was absolutely excited when Kay read Hebrews 10:36, which reads in my translation (NIV), "You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions."

As far as I know, every major religion espouses simplification. Not valuing possessions. Not storing up treasures on Earth. Valuing God, your spiritual growth, your relationship over material things. Could I joyfully accept the confiscation of my property? Yikes. We actually discussed this last night.

I said that I would actually find it a relief to give up everything.... except my Kindle. That was good for a laugh, but it really made me think about what I was willing to give up. Of course, books are not as important as God, my soul, and my family, but they sure do make life enjoyable.

I do value reading material more than any other possession. I got the Kindle free (almost) a month ago. My husband found a credit card deal that was offering a Kindle and 1,000 miles on United, if you opened a credit card and spent $250 dollars. He jumped on it knowing I was saving every penny for a Kindle in my attempt to downsize my possessions, and he has been on a roll lately in doing super sweet things for me. The one caveat was that there is a $60 annual fee. So while not totally free, it was a far cry from the retail value of $189 (oh, yeah, I got the 3D version).

After receiving my card, I immediately charged the $250 (for work expenses) and before we even got the bill, I had received my Kindle. I was so excited. My husband ordered me a beautiful red book-like cover to protect it.

Honestly, I am a hardcore "real" book lover. I had tried to read pdf books on the laptop before and hated it. I find it preferable to print blogs even if I have to read. I resisted the idea of a Kindle for a long time. As I got more and more serious about minimizing my possessions and simplifying my life, I realized I had to let go of my *vast* collection of books. I don't think I have gotten rid of any books I have owned since high school. In fact, I have an almost complete collection of Sweet Valley High books that now sit on my girls' bookshelf (top shelf- they aren't old enough). Ironically, I was so obsessed with twins when I was growing up, and now have beautiful identical blonde twins, just like in the story- except neither one is the "bad" twin in my family. At least not consistently. ;)

I had always envisioned having a room that was a designated "library". I loved going to other people's houses and looking through their bookshelves and finding treasures to read. I liked the idea of having a room where people could go, peruse my floor to ceiling bookshelves, settle into a comfy chaise lounge, and read to their hearts' content. The thought of giving away my most precious possessions was almost nauseating to me. I felt that owning a room full of books "defined" me. It would tell people who I was. I definitely judge people by their bookshelves (not in a bad way, but you can tell what someone's interest is by what they read or *if* they read). I babysat for a woman once who had a collection of books almost identical to mine, and I felt we were reading soulmates and should be friends. Unfortunately, she moved before I could forge that friendship.

As I started researching the minimalist movement, I found more and more reasoning to downsize my books. First, my books are not displayed in some fabulous library. My husband doesn't see books as decor, but rather clutter, so I am afforded one bookshelf in the bedroom that irks him to no end with its' constant tendency to overflow and look "a hot mess", a shelf of cookbooks near the kitchen, and a basket of magazines in the bathroom. The rest of my "precious" collection is confined to boxes in various attics. Needless to say, I am not enjoying all of these fabulous books I own, and if I am truly honest, I have found that it is easier to rebuy a book than figure out where I stored it. So, if I can't even get to all of my books, if I don't even remember which books I have, and if they (while relevant at one time) are no longer relevant to my life, why am I holding these books hostage?

There are so many fabulous posts out there that talk about "releasing your possessions" so that someone else can enjoy them rather than selfishly hoarding them for yourself. Besides, if you think about it, there isn't a published book out there that you can't replace for a price. Why must we "own" something simply because we love it? Can't we set it free and find it again when we are ready to enjoy it again?

So, I wasn't ready to let go of every book I owned, but I thought that for those books I reread on a regular basis, perhaps I could switch to a Kindle. Now not everything is available on the Kindle, so I have allowed myself, my very small bookshelf in my bedroom, to be the sole proprietor of all of the non-digital books I will keep. I am deep in the process of going through my books, deciding if I "need" to read them again, if so are they available on the Kindle or through the local library system. If I can get them on Kindle or through the library and I am not ready to reread them now, I have put them in the "let go" box. If I haven't read them yet and I am sure I want to, they go on the bookshelf on the "to be read then let go" shelf. If I have read them, but am unsure if I want to read them again, I skim the book to decide if it is worth rereading now, worth putting in my wish list for later, or not worth it at all. Are you following my hairbrained system?

So far I have about 6 boxes full of books in the garage. I sold a fair amount at our garage sale (the books along with children's clothes, toys, and craft items got me $173 dollars). I plan to take them to Books-A-Million which has a store that buys books. I also plan to have another garage sale, then I plan to take the rest to the used bookstore to trade for books the girls will read. I don't like to take money from the man at the used bookstore. He is raising his grandson and is a very generous and kind soul. I always take books in for trade and spend more than the credit. I appreciate someone who is spending his retirement years passing through the dangerous waters of raising a teenager again.

Whatever is left, I will donate to the local mission. They don't technically accept things like toys or books. Their main objective is to give food, clothing, and household items to needy families. But they love to give special "gifts" in addition to help brighten someone's day. I donated some toys, and one of the workers told me the reaction of a little boy when he handed him the brand new looking hotwheels storage truck. I have volunteered with the needy since I was a teenager, and after hearing the story of that boy. I was sold. The mission gets all that I give away. I do try to sell it to be frugal- my husband is super thrifty. Right now I am saving for a trip for my son to go to Washington. He missed out on the 5th grade trip because he was homeschooled and we never managed to take him, so I'd love for him to go this year (his junior year). But anything I can't sell that is of value, goes to the mission. I actually hope to do some volunteer work there if I don't end up taking a job immediately (which my husband would prefer). We shall see.

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