I joined BookCrossing the other day! My sweetheart had told me about the idea of “catch and release” for books, and it intrigued me, so I finally got around to looking into it. The idea is to give books away by leaving them in public places, with a little explanation inside. Then, if the person who finds the book wants to, he/she can register the book online so that the original owner can track where the book has been. Theoretically, books can travel around the planet this way, with many owners enjoying them. I think it’s a great idea — imagine being bored to death in a doctor’s office waiting room and then finding a neat book to read, left there by someone who also liked the book and wanted to relieve the boredom! Although you can also release books you don’t like, and that you realize you’re never going to read (or finish) but that someone else might like. 🙂
You know what else I like about this idea? It is the exact opposite of hoarding. You give things away, even things you like, instead of keeping things (even things you don’t like). I have a friend with an extreme hoarding problem. I love him dearly, but he has piles of old newspapers around his house, that had an interesting article in them that he was going to clip one day. Piles of old magazines… I’m not sure what he planned to do with them, or if they just never made their way to the blue bin for recycling. He keeps everything, and his house is overrun with clutter. I also have “keeper” tendencies, but I realized that if I don’t keep them in check, my house would look like his, so I’ve been trying to get rid of things and give them away whenever possible. There are a few ways that I am doing that!
1. I won’t let myself take on anything new without getting rid of something old. For example, I have about 5 hobbies. I won’t take on any more — I am rather interested in stained glass — until I give one up. Some, like watercolour painting, don’t take up much space, but others, like sewing, do.
2. This also applies to clothing: if I want to buy a new sweater, for example, I have to think of one that I will give away at home. I’ve decided I have enough clothes (and could probably get rid of some) and don’t want to start collecting stuff I never wear!
3. I don’t go to the dollar store. I used to. But I found I was buying little stuff all the time, stuff I didn’t really need (often hobby-related), and it was adding to the clutter. Most of it’s such poor quality, it breaks in 5 minutes anyways! So I am opting to buy better quality items — everything from duct tape to candles — that I’ll be happier with in the long run. Steve Pavlina’s post on buying quality items instead of cheaping out made me think too.
4. In a similar vein, I don’t go to the drug store unless I absolutely need something I can’t get anywhere else. I found I was going out of boredom, or thinking “I should try a different shampoo” and leaving with $50 of products I didn’t need. I am still using up those products until they are gone, and I won’t buy anything new until I am completely out. And I won’t step into a drug store without a list. Maybe the drug store’s not a problem for you, but it was for me. But not any more!
This reminds me of a book a friend told me about once, Not Buying It by Judith Levine. (And I just gave you a link to Amazon.ca. Sigh.) Anyways, Judith Levine decides to go a year without buying anything non-essential — food being essential, dining out, not. It’s an interesting life experiment… I think I will have to buy it and read it. No, no, I should get it from the library! Or maybe I can find it on BookCrossing! 🙂
I’m also going to start up a local chapter of Freecycle. It’s an organization that allows people to post when they have something they don’t need and would like to give away. People can also post if they need something. I’m thinking of using it instead of having a garage sale. Garage (or yard) sales are so much work, and we don’t have that much stuff to get rid of, so I’ll give it a go! I think that giving things away, clearing out old stuff, makes room for new things in life! I mean, unless something is truly unique and irreplaceable, why hang on to it “in case I need it?” 🙂 Non-physical things seem to work the same way — getting rid of resentment makes room for happier feelings, for example. So if I want something new, I need to get rid of some things to make room for it first. I think I have a little work to do!
Have a great day, everybody!