Saturday, 24 September 2011

Week 4, Day 6 — Cleaning Out My Closet

Something shifted today.  Julia predicted it, and it happened.  Week 4's tasks have unsettled me.

I woke up this morning at 6am (yes, even on a Saturday), wrote my morning pages then promptly zonked out again, exhausted from yesterday's travels.  When I next roused it was 10am, and I'd had a very strange dream.  An answer seemed to come to me to a question that's been bothering me for some time.  I'm still not quite able to articulate it so I won't share it yet, but I knew what I had to do today regardless.  It's time to take action and commit to change.

I got up, walked to the wardrobe, pulled out the contents and filled two bin bags with clothes.  Most of the stuff doesn't fit me now — I lost 3 stone in weight at the beginning of the year and dropped between two to three sizes, but I clung on to everything and have bought only a very limited selection of new clothes so far.  You see part of me is still convinced I'll fail at some time and relapse then pile all the weight back on, so I kept it all to save me buying bigger clothes all over again.  Today, I decided that's not going to happen.  The changes in my life are permanent, and they're only the beginning.  If I haven't worn it in over 6 months, it's gone.  The charity shop will receive them next time I pass.

When I finished I had brunch, learnt some lines for the play, then looked around me.  My book collection caught my attention.

My books are a great source of personal pride.  I have several thousand (3,418 at my last count in May) packed into my tiny one bedroom flat, all of them neatly organised across walls of bookshelves.  They represent my many varied interests; textbooks on subjects I've studied, subjects I'd like to study, over a thousand play scripts, librettos, biographies, anthologies, fiction.  They reflect a large part of my personality and my thirst for knowledge and entertainment.

Well, that's how I've always justified them in the past.  The truth is, they don't represent me at all.  They represent parts of me that existed in the past, or versions of me that didn't exist at all as I didn't get to complete a course or degree, or they reflect a part of me that's afraid to allow myself to be who I really am as I still clinging on to these piles of unfinished business.  These books are not even on to-do lists to catch up on at any time.  They're just there.

I've been an avid fan of Brooks Palmer's Clutter Busting for a couple of years now, and once a week I settle down and read a round up of his clutter busting blog posts.  I read it, yet I deny it.  I tell myself I'm different from the people he works with, that as someone with literary passion I need my books to prove myself.

Today the shelf that particularly caught my attention was my collection of counselling and psychology books.  I trained as a counselling skills practitioner before moving on to study diplomas in training and development then coaching; yet I continued to acquire further psychology texts as I had a notion that I would one day go back and complete a degree in psychology.  It made sense, it would be a good backup plan if my artistic career failed to take off.  I am now fully committed to my writing and performing career, and it is highly unlikely that I'll go back and study psychology now.  Most of the books are brand new, unread.  That bookshelf represents unfinished business.  It fills me with a mixture of guilt and (dare I say it) regret when I look it, in spite of the fact I know it's not what I want to do.  I think it's time to close that chapter and move on.  I've listed every book on that shelf on eBay today.  If they don't sell by next week, I'll take them to the secondhand bookstore and see what I can get for them there.  After that, I have a busy period coming up with the play now looming dangerously close, but once it's over, I'm going to move to the next shelf, then the next, until I'm left only with those books that in some way enrich who I am now.  No more excuses for some past, future or non-existant version of myself.

As I said earlier, I feel like some answers are forming, bubbling away in the background.  Change isn't just on the horizon, it's happening.  This is preparation, groundwork for something bigger.  It's time to clean out and make room for whatever it is I'm heading for next.


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