Minimalism II

The Mystery of the Singing Serpent was one of my favorite childhood books. It's hard not to enjoy a book with a cover like that.

The Mystery of the Singing Serpent was one of my favorite childhood books. It's hard not to enjoy a book with a cover like that.

 Recently, I made a quick return to Sonoma County to deal with my storage. You’ll remember that last post I discussed how I’m preparing to travel with only my 40L backpack, and that I saw no reason to keep all the STUFF that I have accumulated over these past decades. While eliminating things from my micro-apartment has proven easy, clearing out my storage is much more complicated because those possessions are attached to memories, and emotion often confuses rationality.

I had hoped to be granular in choosing what to keep and what to discard, but I arrived at my storage with a headache, one approaching but not quite achieving migraine status. I was functional enough to load the truck but still cognitively impaired. This impairment proved to be a panacea because I couldn’t triage my storage as I had intended. Instead, if a box looked like it needed to go, it went. I’m sure that I scrapped things that I would have kept had I felt better, and I’m equally sure that eliminating more than planned is a good thing.

By the time I finished for the day, I had taken a half-ton (not .49, not .51, but a half-ton exactly) to the dump, and given eight bankers boxes of photography books to friends. Not only is that a half-ton of stuff removed from my storage, but also a massive weight off of me. I hadn’t realized the psychic toll that maintaining this detritus all these decades has taken.

Unfortunately, I didn’t finish. My headache overwhelmed me after the second truckload, and I had to stop. Remaining are several more boxes and pieces of furniture. I’ll knock those out on my next quick visit.

So what did I keep?

Books from my childhood, such as my Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators series, as well as my Hardy Boys books. Both are series responsible for igniting my passion for reading and writing. Both have changed over the years. The last time I’d looked Alfred Hitchcock had been excised from the Three Investigators, presumably over licensing issues (several books of The Three Investigators, including The Mystery of the Singing Serpent, are available on the Kindle store, but not Apple Books), while the Hardy Boys have experienced numerous revisions, each time dumbing them down further.

Soon after I began reading the Hardy Boys, I discovered while browsing a used bookstore on Main Street in Sebastopol the earlier original series which started publication in the 1920s and predate the blue binding. The books in that series, which was the basis for the books I had originally started reading, were longer, darker, and more sophisticated than the new books I was then buying. I immediately switched to these far more interesting books and enjoyed them immensely.

I’ve also kept the original “Great Books” series, which although mostly unread, represented to my parents the value and potential of knowledge and education. This series has come under attack on several fronts in recent years, for being European based, for relying on poor (read old and therefore out of copyright) translations (translations age as quickly as computers, and these translations seem positively archaic), and for having small type, making them very difficult to read. Despite these flaws, I find the promise they hold inspiring.

And my hardbound copy of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, given to me by my parents on my tenth birthday.

Aside from books, I’ve also kept art, including things from around the world that my uncle, who was a merchant marine during WWII, gave us. He must have collected these things as he traveled and distributed them throughout the family. 

By the time I’m done I’m sure that I’ll have discarded a ton of stuff (literally). I’ve just, a moment before I began to write this post, given my bookshelves to one of my favorite baristas, and look forward to eliminating the rest soon.