In the last 15 years we’ve moved six times, chucking out each time. But then we accumulate more, and it’s not from parents for they were dead 20 years ago. Before we die we’ll likely as not be in a two up, two down, and we’re chucking out now.
I can’t speak for her indoors—wouldn’t dare, though I know she finds it painful (‘books are my friends’), but I think it liberating to see the back of stuff I don’t need any more. There’s nothing like a bonfire.
Take my books. Over the years I’ve collected a vast number. Lots of them signified a club I thought I wanted to belong to: organ building, Greek, Latin, Sanskrit (how stupid is that?), a bit of philosophy, theology, medicine of course, embryology. Organ and piano music too. When I was a teenager and wanted to be a cathedral organist I stocked up on all sorts of music. I look through the library and think ‘I’ve never touched that in the last 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years; I’m not likely to in the next 20 if I live that long (family history not encouraging there), so out it goes.
And it has. I’m very grateful for the ‘ministry’ of Sue Ryder, theological colleges and musical friends. I’ve kept stuff that interested me when I was a child (zoology), music that I could well get round to playing, and books that speak of beauty and that I might find useful (some theology). But that’s all.
The question is: why did I want to belong to those clubs? Why do we want to join sports clubs or golf clubs (I’m not old enough to play golf) or drinking clubs or backslapping clubs where we stitch up local business to our own advantage? Is it because we feel we have no identity unless we are part of a mob? The story we read on Palm Sunday says a good deal about the mob.
Maybe it’s because we become infected by a demon. Back in the fourth century AD Evagrios the Solitary wrote that the demons that fight us in the front line are those entrusted with the appetites of gluttony, those that suggest avaricious thoughts, and those (worst of all) that incite us to seek the esteem of men. I think it’s the last one that makes us want to join clubs: the craving for recognition by those whose recognition is not worth having. He knew a thing or two did Evagrios the Solitary.
Out goes the rubbish. Maybe I’ll end up sanyassi.