Back in October, David Gullen, a member of the writers’ circle I belong to had his book, Shopocalypse, published. The story is set in a dystopian future in which consumerism has gone mad, so mad that whenever something is bought the store can arrange for the item to be sent not to your home but into storage! I was reminded of Dave’s book while clearing out my house in preparation for renting it.
When I looked into how much it would cost to store my belongings, I came to the conclusion that for almost £6000 (£160 per month for 36 months), it would be cheaper to get rid of most my things and then buy whatever I needed when I returned.
So last week I set about recycling, donating or selling my possessions: a task far easier to type than to do. My main challenge has been deciding which of the things I own are worth keeping for a future I have no way of knowing.
After spending a week going through my reference books (just my books – I’m no further than that!), I had to resort to the following 3 questions to make some progress:
- How often do you use this book?
- How useful would this book be 3 years from now?
- Would the financial/emotional cost of keeping this book be greater or less than the cost of replacing it?
I found that, on average, 70% of my reference books weren’t touched last year. Three years from now, most probably 60% of them will be ‘redundant’ due to new editions being available or my moving onto other interests. While it will certainly cost more to buy the same books 3 years from now, it’s the emotional cost of letting go of the damn things that pains me the most. A voice kept echoing in my head as each book hovered over the ‘Donate’ pile. It kept repeating, Are you sure? You never know when you might need that book.
Thanks to those 3 questions, I’ve now given away 90% of my books. Having those books nearby, information that I can reach out and grab, was a great source of security. Strangely however, giving away most of them has left me feeling lighter. Knowing that there are other ways of accessing information and storing it (hurrah for Evernote, ebooks and the Internet!) is perhaps the only security I really need.
It’s early days, and there’s loads of other dust-gathering stuff that I need to work my way through. I’ll definitely need those questions again.