The library of lost conversation

Wonderfully writing that strikes a chord with me. Mathew Lyons takes a beautiful journey through his parents’ book collection after they pass away.

Mathew Lyons

My father died in May, seven years after my mother. We are slowly emptying the house the two of them lived in together since the autumn of 1966, a couple of months after I was born.

The house contains my childhood, of course, and those of my older brother and sisters – but mostly now it embodies my parents’ lives together, the choices they made, together or singly, the things they loved, the things they could afford, the things they could not afford but bought anyway, good furniture followed by worse once children required accounting for, my mother’s resilient DIY eventually supplanted by an old age of greater ease and comfort.

To break it up, this life, seems strangely disloyal. Should their choices and tastes mean so little to us? Do photographs, which we will keep, say more about them than the LPs they collected, the pictures and prints on…

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Analysis Paralysis

I suffer from Analysis Paralysis, a term I learned of today that explains something I’ve been struggling with for years. Analysis Paralysis is a ridiculous condition in which I am so overwhelmed by all of my options that I end up not choosing any of them. I’m sure you’ve felt this feeling too.

I can never pick a book to read because there are too many that I want to read. I find myself asking,

“Which book will I gain the most from?”

“Is it worth my time?”

“Is there another book better than this one?”

I find the same struggle with choosing a career. I have been flip flopping on this topic for quite some time. It always boils down to things like,

“How much will I like this career over that one?”

“What is the ratio of time spent in school to how much money I will eventually earn?”

And most importantly,

“Am I smart enough to do this?”

I find that the question above is what stops me from pursuing most careers. I fear wasting time and energy trying to learn something that I think I could never excel at. What if I read a book about physics but then I find I am unable to be a physicist?

All of that time wasted! I could have learned something else!

I used to be afraid of having useless information in my head. Filling it with garbage factoids as opposed to the best possible combination of information. Whether this is something to be afraid of or not, (I cannot find conclusive information about our learning capacity) it is ridiculous to worry about.

When I spend all this time worrying about what I am learning, I am not learning anything. When I decide not to read a book, I never have the chance to know if it was something I would have enjoyed. As far as I can tell there is no limit to how much you can learn. I have also heard that the more you learn and connect things, the better the information is locked into your head.

Sure, I may never be an archaeologist, but does that mean I can’t read a book about it? By the way, I strongly suggest reading Lucy by Donald Johanson, it’s a great book.

I’m afraid of math because it is not my strongest subject. But does that mean I should never read anything about math in fear of wasting my time?

The truth is, you can become an expert in any field you want. You also don’t have to decide right now. Read about the subjects you’re interested in at this very moment. It’s ok to change your mind. Maybe, you can find a broader field that most of your interests lie in and study that.

For me, the grand majority of my interests fall into biology. Sometimes I lean more towards astronomy or physics but even then, it’s always associated with biology.

I think what I’m trying to say is, don’t be afraid. Analysis Paralysis is a real thing, but you can fight back. Sometimes it’s even nice to close your eyes and pick a book at random. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Adulting 101: Being Grateful for What You Have

The Mini Meditating Dragon completely captures how I feel about adulting. Beautiful blog.

The Mini Meditating Dragon

While I’m not a fan of the term “adulting”, I think it’s the best way to describe what I’m doing. I’m attempting to be an adult. While legally and biologically I’ve reached the age to be considered a fully functioning human being, I don’t feel like it. Partly because I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, but mostly because I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing what I believe I should be.

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KonMari Can’t Have My Books

Bookshelves line the walls, stacks of books balance precariously in every corner and there isn’t a clear surface in sight.

A few months ago I jumped on the bandwagon and bought Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. Honestly, it was one of the few experiences I have had that has changed my life.

My dad has always been a hoarder, instilling in me that everything has value. This is true, but it is not that black and white.

I live in fear of waste. Throwing things out hurts me and excessive plastic packaging is like a knife to the heart. Just today I got into an argument with my dad about getting rid of boxes that we had way too many of because I was sure I could find a use for them. This was the problem I had with the KonMari method.

‘I can’t throw out my precious things! Was she crazy? How Wasteful!’ I fumed when I heard about KonMari.

But I started to try it in my own way, little by little. I gave away clothes I didn’t wear (making my niece’s very happy). I then folded my husband and I’s remaining clothes so that they had the strength to stand by themselves.  I organized my papers and recycled anything I didn’t need to hold on to. I sold off my knick knacks at yard sales. And, I even sold some of my precious books.

Overall, I got rid of close to 70% of my belongings.

I was liberated, there was so much room to breathe. Everything was great, except, for the emptiness in my book shelves. I marveled at the organization of my now decreased wardrobe. I loved the freedom of having a place to put my coffee on my desk. But the emptiness of my bookshelves set a gloomy shadow.

My family runs a bookstore, you can tell the second that you step into my father’s house. Bookshelves line the walls, stacks of books balance precariously in every corner and there isn’t a clear surface in sight. Books are a security blanket in my family and I had lost mine.

 

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My dad and his books

 

Over the past few months, I have been carefully rebuilding my collection. Trying to keep only books that I feel like I need or that I will read. And at this point, I must accept defeat. I refuse to live the perfect KonMari lifestyle. I have the power to pick and choose the modes in which I live my life. I find that extremism is not something I can do. Giving myself back my books was a waste of space, sure. But, I feel better, I read more, and my walls are more insulated with these bad boys around.