65. More Stuff on Stuff

This is part 4 of several posts discussing Richard Foster’s chapter on Simplicity in Celebration of Discipline.

Of the ten practical ways to embrace simplicity in your life that Richard Foster discusses in Celebration of Discipline, this next one has made me most uncomfortable. I must confess here: it has taken me several weeks to write about this one. Oh, I started it. Three weeks ago I started it…

Reject anything that is producing an addiction in you.

Foster is not talking about dangerous addictions here; he is talking about the generally good or fun things that people enjoy, that become obsessions or idols in our lives. Such as buying books, shoes, clothes, watching TV or other media, sports, games, Facebook, Blogging, Pinterest, or ________________(fill in the blank here.)

But please note that Mr. Foster says specifically, “learn to distinguish between what is a real psychological need, like cheerful surroundings, and an addiction.” That line made me smile — Right, we’re just making the cottage into a place with cheerful surroundings!

Bookshelf

“My heart will be on books when my strength has failed.” –Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

But I spend a lot of time buying books. I’m a librarian. I buy books from Amazon, Half-Price Books, Powell’s, Abe Books, Barnes and Noble (I’m still in mourning for Borders…) Westminster Book Store, Christian Book Distributors and others. I buy them for work, and I buy them (ahem) for myself…Is it a real psychological need? Yes — for study, for serious reading, for reference; I don’t buy fluff. Well, not much.

And the other thing is — I like owning books. I like the way they feel in my hands. I love opening new books and reading the dust jacket. I enjoy the art on the dust jacket — if you ask me Nooks and Kindles can’t compete. But that’s another post…

And I do give them away. If I loan a book, I generally loan it with the expectation that I won’t get it back. (Unless my name is on the flyleaf; then there are no excuses, right?) I’m glad to give away books I love. And sometimes I buy myself another copy…

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My nightstand is proof that I don’t need to buy myself another copy — I have plenty to read. And this is just one nightstand; I have another that looks just like this one at the cottage. (This feels like True Confession time…)

It’s interesting because that’s what Foster recommends — give away the stuff that you love to prove it has no hold over you. He tells a funny story about a young man who was so addicted to his morning newspaper that when it didn’t come one morning, he found himself plotting how to steal his neighbor’s paper. Horrified, he immediately called the newspaper to cancel his subscription. Cold turkey on newspapers! Not because newspapers are bad, but because he didn’t want to be obsessed.

And another suggestion for simple living that goes right along with this one is this: Learn to enjoy things without owning them.

Could I get my books without buying them? Yes. I’m a librarian, for goodness sake! Amazon just makes it so easy…

Bookshelf

Support your local library instead of Amazon. Rent a vacation house instead of buying one. Go to museums. Window shop. Rent tools. Lease a car, or better yet, take public transportation if you can. Celebrate public parks. Do free stuff. Steal share your neighbor’s newspaper (with their permission, of course.)

So, some of my books are going to have to go…One of the rooms I love in my city house is the library. Built-in bookshelves all along a wall — such a luxury — and we don’t have the space at the cottage. Though Mr. H.C. has offered to build me a wall of bookshelves in the living room… But boxes of books are so heavy. Should I give away the ones I’m saving to read some day; or my favorites that I’m saving to read again? Hmmm…

Is there something you need to be careful about buying because you buy too much? Is there something that you need to be careful about doing because you do it too much?