The human race is a horror. We slaughter sharks by stripping them of their fins and dumping the rest of their bodies, still alive, to die in the ocean. We tear apart the body of mother Earth to suck out the last drops of fossil fuels to feed our appetite for electricity and mobility. We destroy habitat for innumerable species in every part of the planet, from mountains to rivers to forest, grasslands, reefs and the deep ocean. If we disappeared from the planet tomorrow not a single place would suffer from our absence. What can any of us do in restitution? How can we as individuals learn to tread as lightly as possible on this miracle of a planet?
The process of getting rid of one’s possessions is an interesting exercise. In some ways it is like peeling away the layers of an onion. Each time you think you are reaching the core, but then another layer is revealed. Sometimes I think that there will be nothing left, but I remain hopeful that at the heart there is a little green shoot, the germ of a future life.
Although the “purging” has been difficult, somehow it is becoming easier as I travel this path. I think the turning point came when I took my university textbook copies of Keats and Shelley and placed them on the pile of books to leave my house. From then on whenever I hold a book in my hand and begin to waver I think to myself, if you can get rid of Keats and Shelley why can’t you say goodbye to this? A different, more positive, atmosphere now surrounds the whole adventure. My motives for keeping or discarding are becoming clearer.
For example, I was planning to keep a particular fantasy trilogy for some reason, although many others had been put in the goodbye pile. I thought, maybe I should try reading a few pages to see what I think of these books now. I have to say I didn’t even get to my goal of reading the first forty pages. It was enjoyable enough but not anything I now feel worthy of precious shelf space.
So why had I felt so attached? I understood at last it was only because I had had so much trouble finding the third volume in the trilogy. Somehow that effort had given those books a greater value in my mind. This insight made it easier for me to say goodbye, and I had learned an important lesson about myself and why I think I value some things. Now I know that I must question my motives, my feelings of attachment, all the time.