On the evening of December 18, I was halfway through a favorite holiday movie I love when I felt unable to sit through it for the entirety. In my unsettled state, I made the decision to go to bed instead. However, upon making it into bed and lying in the dark for quite some time, I found I was unable to get to sleep. Perhaps it was the bitter Emperor's Cloud and Mist Green Tea consumed earlier in the evening or perhaps it was simply the way things needed to be.
I tossed and turned and stared, blinking at the darkened ceiling, until finally I decided to get out of bed. Even if I did have to teach the next morning, it would be better to see to my unsettledness than to lie in bed wide-awake. A person can get through one morning of teaching with little to no sleep, I told myself.
Since everyone in my home was in bed, I came out into the living room where I sat by the soft glow of white Christmas lights and lit a candle. I journaled a little, writing seemingly nothing of importance. Then I perused the internet a bit and sifted through unimportant emails. I closed my laptop with a sudden urge to pack up my belongings and get on with my life.
These belongings, specifically, were books. I stared up at my one allotted bookshelf, one shelf being a self-imposed restriction that makes me happy, and I thought about ridding myself of every single one.
In the past doing such a thing (yes, I've done this numerous times) has later proved disappointing when I go to look for a specific book only to find I have it no longer. So I devised an accommodation for myself. Pack the books away and store them until a future date. This way they aren't easily accessible, but should I need them or want to part with them at a future time, when the reasons have been made more clear, then I can do so as necessary.
So I did it right then and there. I took all of the books off my shelf and stored them in a plastic crate I found in my garage. I did it fast and with great excitement, like I was setting off on a journey and would need to be traveling light. I left the fiction books. It was the nonfiction type that had to go this time around. I knew it was the right thing. I knew I had no need for anyone else's suggestions, and I needed to stop feeling devoted to their opinion over my own.
I left my copy of Emerson's Self-Reliance on the shelf.
I also pulled two art books off the shelf and started ripping the first few pages out, one at a time. I would make envelopes with the beautiful artwork. The art needed to be used, enjoyed, shared, passed on. Not stored on my shelf as a sort of roadblock at a dead end I no longer cared to respect. I wouldn't need to be referring to these anymore.
With all the books heaved and hoed into my closet, I found a certain spaciousness, and in that spaciousness arose a desire to get my hand's on a copy of The Artist's Way. For a few months I'd been off and on listening to a CD interview with Julia Cameron on this topic in my car, and then a woman had mentioned the book at my art journaling class three days prior, and it sparked something in me I needed to see to. I'd once had a copy, but had rid myself of it in a previous mass-book-exit a couple years earlier. I promised myself I would search for a copy at the used bookstore after teaching the next day. With that in motion, I was able to get to sleep, finally.
It might be good to add here that at the used bookstore the next day I managed to acquire two more copies of Emerson's Self-Reliance, which I had not intended to get until I suddenly knew they were needed for cutting and pasting art purposes. I also resisted asking the store clerk where I might find a copy of The Artist's Way because I felt sure if there was one in the crowded and messy aisles of this store, I would find it. It was right at this point I was standing at the end of an aisle, and raised my head to see two copies directly in front of me along the East wall. "Right then, there you are," I said under my breath to the books. I selected one copy as mine and paid for my three books. My total time in the used bookstore was less than 10 minutes. My life has been very interesting since then.