Through my stuff I’m having a look
It’s hard to throw out a book
It could be a blast
For an iconoclast
You won’t believe the time that it took
I’ve started clearing stuff out of my office.
First, I moved out three of my four dictionaries. Print dictionaries are rapidly becoming an anachronism in the information age. Even if I don’t use one very often I couldn’t bear to not have one on the bookshelf.
I disposed of two PDR’s, one from 2008 and one from 2009. I remember when the publication ran much smaller and much thinner. Our current fabulous medicinal agents just keep getting better. Are they worth the cost? You can have 1982 medicines at 1982 prices, they haven’t gone up with inflation. If you want the improvements, you’ll have to pay for the updates.
I try not to put so much into the trashcan that the janitor will hurt his or her back trying to lift it. I throw away about one trashcan full a day.
Our oldest, Jesse, started us playing the game Divestiture about three years ago. The rules: each round specifies an end date. You get one point for getting rid of something the size of a box or a bag, and two points for getting rid of something the size of a pony. You can only get rid of your own stuff. No points for stuff brought in just to be gotten rid of. Forming the intent to take stuff away or sell doesn’t count, you only get points when things leave. You can sell, donate or throw possessions away; consuming the consumables doesn’t count. In the beginning we had a separate point system for things in the fridge, but we’re past that.
You can make your own rules.
It took two years of steady streams of things going away by the literal van load till we could see a difference in how much clutter we possessed.
Divestiture has put a new spin on what we buy, or rather, what we don’t buy. I look at the fabulous prices at Harbor Freight, then I think of all the things I dumped off at Goodwill that I hadn’t used for years. Then I think that I don’t want more things to stumble over.
The process is working for us as a household, and now I’m applying it to the space I’ve worked in for close to a quarter century.
Back when I started private practice, I opened my Physician’s Desk Reference several times a day. Even back then it was so unwieldy that I memorized dosages. I kept it on my desk because pulling it off the shelf would have given me tendonitis. In 1990 I got my first Franklin Electronic Book, put the PDR module in it, and stuck it in my pocket. Ten years ago I got my Palm and downloaded Epocrates, an electronic pharmaceutical data base. Most years now I get my paper PDR and I don’t even open it.
Getting rid of books, whether at home or at work, comes hard for me emotionally. Throwing books away, even books I couldn’t stand to read, goes against my grain. So I take some of the books home and trying to give others away. I tell myself that in this year of going walkabout I will read some of them, because I’ll have time.
I have no trouble putting trashing the dangerously out-of-date books. In 1987, a seven-year-old book retained usefulness. Now a three-year old book is suspect, because it was a year old when it was printed.
However much I might bemoan the passage of print materials, internet based data sources trump paper almost every time. I’m sure there’s an exception, but I can’t think of one.