Simple Days

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I have a book buying problem. There I said it. I buy them faster than I can read them, so I always have huge stacks of books sitting by my bookshelves. I got a little overwhelmed by the to-read stacks yesterday, and couldn't decide what to read next, so instead of trying to figure it out, I decided to stall by counting all the books. There were 198 of them, which is a high number even for me. But I still want to buy more. Having my own personal bookstore at home never stops me from acting like a addict when I'm in a real bookstore. I walk in, the smell of books surrounds me and all I can think is, "NEED. MORE. BOOKS." But I figure that there are a lot worse things I could be addicted to right now, so why fight it. Besides, now that I'm writing this blog I may actually be able to make it through those 198 books before I have a chance to buy 198 more.

Now for today's book:
The description on the back of the book wasn't a helpful one, so I'll just give you a brief description: It's a published journal of a woman who spends a year trying to simplify her life.

In yesterday's blog entry I wrote a little bit about paring down my schedule and throwing out the clutter. So it just seemed natural today to read a book about simplifying. I usually find books about simplifying kind of annoying because of the "Fix your problems in 10 easy steps" approach that they take. I'm also not a fan of the "Throw out everything you own, shun all technology, and go live in a cabin in the country" approach either. I like stuff and I want things and I'm never giving up my t.v. or computer. But, the author assures me in the first sentence of the book, "This is not a book about going back to the land," so I think I can safely proceed.

Reading about the author's attempt to simplify her life has motivated me to finally face the Project's Box I've been avoiding dealing with for the last several years. I have a box filled with materials I've acquired during various trips to craft stores. The problem is that I lose all sense of reason when I walk into one of those stores, and I become convinced that I can make stuff. I walk up and down the aisles thinking, "I could make my own soap." Then, I spend several more minutes trying to suppress the thought that I don't even enjoy driving to the store to buy soap, before I start the long process of trying to talk myself out of buying the making-your-own-soap kit. I did eventually talk myself out of it. Unfortunately, I was unable to talk myself out of the knitting supplies, decoupage kit, calligraphy set, fabric to make pillows for someday when I learn to sew, and ribbon for a picture frame project that I read about in a magazine once and always meant to try. It's honesty time now. I'm never going to make my own soap or knit my own sweaters. That's not the kind of life I lead. So I've thrown out the Projects Box, and I feel liberated. Now there's one less pile of clutter to distract me from more important things.

After reading this book I'm thinking of simplifying differently. It's not just about getting rid of the clutter. It's about being honest with myself about how I really live, and what I truly enjoy spending my time on. Making homemade candles, knitting scarves, and sewing sounds so wholesome and appealing to me when I read a Little House book, but I don't actually enjoy those things in practice. I just like the idea of them, and I can still enjoy the idea of those things while reading about them. I've also vowed to myself that I will not go in any craft stores in the future unless I am accompanied by someone who can talk me out of buying another decoupage kit. So, dear readers, if you ever see me walking into a craft store, feel free to stage an intervention in the parking lot and I will try to remember that it's for my own good. If you see me walking into a bookstore, tell yourself, "At least she doesn't drink," and leave me in peace to obsessively buy books.