I have just filled two carrier bags with books to take to Oxfam. And that is just the start. I live (and work) in one small room and it is time for a clearout.
I find that having more stuff than I need feels like an actual physical burden. I could feel it as I went through my books, the clinging to a book because I might want to read it again some day. But I haven’t looked at it literally for years, and I trust that if I do ever really need to read it again (which is highly unlikely) I will be able to get hold of a copy. So out it goes, and I literally feel lighter.
I was speaking to someone recently who has had to leave his house and almost all of his possessions behind and he talked about how liberating it felt. I’m not advocating that we all chuck out everything we own, but most of us hang onto things for too long, clothes we will never wear again, old pots and pans that we never use, things we bought on a whim and which now live on top of the wardrobe or at the back of a cupboard which seem too new and expensive to give away.
Somehow these things drain my energy, there is a little bit of me attached to each one of them. Giving them away sets me free of them and may also mean that someone else can benefit. And I see how this is related to fear of future lack, and I know that I do not want to feed that fear.
One book that I am definitely keeping, though, is Cave in the Snow by Tenzin Palmo, a British woman who became a Tibetan nun in 1964. She says: I can remember one time in Dalhousie when I didn’t have anything left. Not a single rupee. I had nowhere to live, and nothing to buy food with. I stood on the top of a hill with waves of isolation and insecurity running over me. And then I thought, if you really take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, as we all do at our ordination, and sincerely practise, then you really shouldn’t be concerned. Since that time I have stopped worrying. An inspiring lady!