June 14, 2011
As of this Thursday, I will officially be a nomad.
Yes, ‘nomad’ is a more empowered way of saying ‘homeless.’
I love the house I live in in Beverly Hills, but around the beginning of 2011 I began to feel the urge to move closer to the beach. I love the creative counter-culture of Venice, and though I’ve lived in LA for 14 years, have not yet resided in that area. So I set my sights there.
However, once I’d been liberated from my day job (my interpretation of being ‘laid off’) and began living on unemployment (the equivalent of $25,000/year, before taxes), couch surfing with friends and traveling seems like a more economically feasible and exciting way to spend my time and money. So I decided to Go Nomad, and found someone to sublet my room.
Part of the Going Nomad process is getting rid of most of my crap. I’ve been an “aspiring minimalist” for years, and have explored the topic a bit in this blog. Well, it’s time for me to pony up, walk the talk, finally carry out my fantasies of owning, and being owned by, less stuff.
So that’s what I’m tackling this week (with the help of some kind and focused clutter-clearing friends!).
Tonight I came up against a major challenge of letting go – my books.
Oh, how I love my books. I know I can’t keep them all. I do not intend to drag a suitcase full of books to Argentina. And yes, I have a Kindle, but Kindles just can’t replace physical BOOKS.
As I was agonizing over what to keep and what to chuck, I was flipping through a roommate’s copy of ‘Rules for Radicals’ by Saul D. Alinsky. I borrowed it a few months ago and still haven’t read it. Printed almost 40 (40!!!) years ago, in 1972, its pages are stiff and yellow, darker on the edges, and THAT SMELL wafts out when you turn the pages. That old book smell, like a hug, like a pillow & blanket fortress.
Underlined, on page 14, is this passage:
“The prime illusion we must rid ourselves of is the conventional view in which things are separate from their inevitable counterparts.”
There is one word, hand written in the margins:
I believe my roommate told me that his parents gave him this book; I wonder if he underlined that sentence for me, or if his parents knew another unconventional Michelle 40 years ago who came to mind when reading that passage.
So, my challenge is this: Do I hold on to the conventional view, and hang onto my books out of the fear that I will not be enough without them, not know enough without reading them? Or do I trust that I’m not separate from them and their teachings and their authors? Do I have faith that I already know everything I “need” to know, and that the necessary lessons will find me when I need them?
I don’t know yet.
During the Great Depression, Joseph Campbell spent five years holed up in a cabin, reading and underlining books. He says the Universities wouldn’t let him study what he wanted, so he gave himself a PHD of his own choosing. I’ve fantasized about doing this same thing. Well, now I may have the chance. I have a friend who owns a farm up in Mendocino. Perhaps I’ll take a suitcase of books up there, and a bright teal pen, and give myself a PHD of my own choosing. A few years of farming, reading and yoga is sounding pretty appealing right now…
Ok, I’m not really going to do that for five years, but a girl can fantasize, can’t she?!
Wherever I end up, whether it’s on a farm or in Argentina or in Venice Beach or on a sailboat, I’m very much looking forward to this pivotal point in my life. I wonder how this Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story will turn out!