Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Past, on Paper

I think I may have mentioned that I have been collecting books for years. I have paperback books that I bought through Scholastic in the 1960's for $.60 (now their 5 bucks!). Yeah; that's a long time to hold on to a 3rd grade level book. But now I have a granddaughter who likes to read and is at that grade level, so maybe it hasn't been in vain.

I have received a lot of books as gifts through the years, and I have looked at every one. Some were not my style, and that look was rather cursory. Others were exactly what I was looking for, and they were studied a little harder.

So; do I have a point here or not?

The point is about the only room in my house where I don't have books is the kitchen. I tried keeping a few there, but they were promptly evicted. I sometimes think it is time to start paring down the collection. But I never get farther than thinking about it.

Which ones to sever my connection with? The ones that were passed down from my Grandparents? The ones I have had for 40 years? The ones I have been given as gifts? The textbooks which cost me dearly in college, and have been seldom opened, even when I was in school? I could probably come up with maybe a dozen to get rid of.

There were a couple a few years ago that were so poorly written that I couldn't finish them; they would be on the short list. And I have some old Almanacs that have become obsolete, except that the information in them cannot be corrupted by future events, so maybe they need to stay around.

Two things that keep making the news that I am acutely aware of; Hoarders, and Simplifying. I have sympathies with both. I don't want to be a hoarder, but does just keeping something that may have some use make me one? And I would love to simplify my life, but I have a hard time thinking about what I can do without. Some people become homeless, and live out of their Honda. I would have a problem living out of a semi trailer; no way could I pare down to just what I could fit in the trunk of my car.

How does that happen? Maybe there are folks who don't need tactile memories, but I'm not one of them. I have things in my collection drawer that would look meaningless to most people, but to me they are memory keys, and when ever I run across them I think about an event or person that doesn't normally cross my mind. That one little item can transport me back to some (usually) pleasant time in my life. How do people who have pared down their possessions trigger those memories?

My books are memory triggers too. Sometimes they remind me of who I received the book from, or where I was when I received or purchased it. Sometime the book will remind me of where I was when I first, or maybe last, read it. Or a combination of things; Like my Grandma's collection of Westerns that I read during the bad winter in January of my Senior year in High School; there's a twofer right there!

Each holds a special memory, and I couldn't imagine discarding any of them.

Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks that almost everything I've ever done is memorable?

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