Yesterday I emptied my library. Well, I left the books on the shelves and a few ginormous pieces of furniture (I'm talking to you, piano, you albatross around my neck) in place, but Jan the bowling ball, piles of papers, stacks of books, chairs, even my beautiful rug got moved out.
When we built our house, the room that I call "my library" was originally a formal dining room with a doorway to the kitchen. I read and write more than I host diner parties, so we kept a solid wall of cupboards between the kitchen and this room and Mr. D's friend custom built an entire wall of bookshelves for me. It's a glorious room, really. The walls are a deep red, the carpet forest green. The three windows are super-deep, just 6 inches from the floor, and look out onto the front porch of our house.
It's sacred space. Only my things (and a few of Mr. D's) are allowed here--music boxes from my childhood, Wedgwood plates, my dainty and fragile belongings--and of course, my books.
Because it's sacred space, it's also where projects go--safe from Nerf bullets and racing boys, protected from curious fingers and crumbs. Photos that need albums, gifts that need wrapping, pictures that need framing, papers that need tending. The piles have grown, so have the stacks of books.
Nine years ago I shelved my collection on my bookshelves, but nine years of acquiring new titles meant a space crunch. Because I used to work in a library, I organized my book according to Dewey's System, business and biography don't get shelved with fiction. Duh.
And I got a piano (because I'm not terribly bright sometimes), a desk and a chair. As the stuff encroached on my space, my mind felt cluttered and the distractions mounted.
Obviously things had gotten out of hand and there's only one way to tackle that kind of a problem. I emptied the room and reset it yesterday. Mind you, I'm not finished yet, but Big Decisions were made. The rug has been rolled up and will get stored in the basement for now. The piano was granted clemency. For now. A basket of gift tags and ribbons got moved to the closet where gift wrap gets stored. The book collection got shifted to make room for new titles and to accommodate nine years of growth and acquisition. Fiction has an entire 5 shelf section to itself, unread books are not on a separate shelf and no longer teetering in piles beside the piano. The tchotckes and knick-knacks that had no sentimental value to me got boxed up for the thrift shop--as well as some books I had no stomach to keep. I divested myself of two old laptops, children's art projects and several piles of random junk, like half-empty bottles of hand lotion and dried up pens.
The top of the piano is cleared off and looks tidy. The bookshelves make sense. The corners are empty of clutter and cobwebs (and a half-sucked throat lozenge). My mind feels at peace even though I've still got a few stacks of papers to sort/toss/file/deal with. I needed the serenity and clarity that comes from space and order.
It's been annoying me that all this junk piled up in my room, but it was my own fault for letting it get out of hand. I determine what I keep and if I want less crap in my life, well, it's up to me to let it go. (Yes, piano, you should feel nervous. Relax, Jan, you get to stay.)
Spill it, reader. What space in your life have you totally cleared out and reset lately?