Exercise in Detachment - Books

I'm working my way through my "steps" and I started with books. I don't have a ton of time to sort these days, so I just did a little bit.  I think I need to be more hard about "slicing" things out. I pulled out 10 or so of the really great books I've read recently and brought them to tonight's board meeting. I gave a brief summary about them and what my thoughts were and offered them up to whoever wanted them. I encouraged them to share them with each other when they are done.  All but one book remained, one that was destined for another reader in the group not present at the meeting.

Books that I gave away:

Lies my Teacher Told Me - I read this book many years ago and have not touched it since, but it helped me realize concretely that not everything we were told in school was true, not everything in history books is accurate.

The Starfish and the Spider - Without question the best book I read last year. Recommended by a professor, it is a quick read and discusses the structure within leaderless organizations, the strength of leaderless systems, and how this theory applies to what is going on with terrorism, information sharing, etc.

Wikinomics - Fantastic, great read to accompany Starfish.

Groundswell - Even better than Wikinomics. Also recommended by a professor.

Ways of Seeing - Also recommended by a professor, but in my undergraduate. Noticing a theme here.

Emotional Intelligence - One of the best and most practical books I've ever read. I think everybody should read this book. Seriously.

The Pirate's Dilemma - Good book. Required for a class, but very applicable elsewhere. A great summary of the book is here:

Concern moving forward:

I am getting rid of quite a few things... and only keeping the things that I use, that are important. Considering this is an exercise in detachment, will the consequences be that I am more attached to fewer things (because I have little), rather than moderately/not very attached to many things because I have plenty?

An Exercise in Detachment

I haven’t been doing the country blogs because my mind has been a bit elsewhere. I plan to get back into it, but wanted to take on a more personal project for now. I actually began this process a few years ago, though I never fully completed it. I did complete one phase of it, enough to finally take the space in the house that had been portioned to me-and-just-me. I created within that space an “art room,” one where I can go to create, stretch, think, etc. It is simple, clean and somewhat tranquil in a house where elsewhere,animals rule. Now that I think about it, I probably don’t use it as often as I should.

Anyway, when I went through the process last, I sorted through about 10-15 boxes that remained from my move to Minnesota and from STPL to MPLS. These boxes contained more art supplies, books, etc - almost totally neglected for years. As I went through this process before I don’t think the procedure was fully fleshed out... and I think I have some additions that will help me have greater and more holistic success as I go through this again.

Life gets busier and busier and I constantly hope to accomplish, simplify, organize within it. (you should see my little lists!) Have you ever read the analogy of rocks, pebbles, and sand? That analogy, in combination with the buddhist concept of suffering and desire, applied to one’s life, can potentially allow room for more meaningful life experience. At least, that’s my underlying assumption here. Starting tonight begins the next phase of an exercise in detachment. I will journal as I go through it, but who knows - maybe this blog will be the next thing to go. (Just kidding.

  • Step 1 - Identify “stuff.”
  • Step 2 - Identify process (I think these first two go hand in hand, actually.)
  • Step 3 - Create timeline for process
  • Step 4 - Proceed with process
  • Step 5 - Re-evaluate
  • Step 6 - Proceed again
  • (rinse, repeat.)

We’ll see how this goes.

About the Stuff

Initially I would think that I have much “stuff” - as I don’t really think I like “things.” I don’t collect crystal cats or anything like that, I don’t really like getting trinkets for gifts. I think me and my niece are like that in a way, though our homes are full of things, we really don’t like clutter and avoid it when we can. However, I’ve identified a lot of “stuff” I do have, and in order to simplify I plan to go through it and possibly - get rid of it. As I move through this “Stuff” I’ll do one of the following:

  • Keep it (only if I can create with it, engage others with it, or if it is a USEFUL tool.) Examples: a deck of cards, a cooking pan, a paintbrush, a set of thank-you cards.)
  • Re-purpose it (maybe it could be useful but isn’t in it’s current state)
  • Give it away (if I think it will bring joy to somebody else or if I want to share it with somebody else or if somebody else can use it. For example: I have a set of books that I read when I was a little girl, my nieces read when they were little girls and I really want to give to Gracie, but I always forget them on the shelf.)
  • Sell it (if it has value and I can pay down my debt from selling things I don’t need, why not?)
  • Simplify it (I have something in mind here, this may make more sense later)
  • Goodwill (give it away to a charity if I think it has value elsewhere than with me or with a direct connection.)
  • Recycle it (Reduce, reuse, recycle!)
  • Throw it away ( if it doesn’t fit into any of the categories above. I hope I don’t have much here in this category. )

So far, here is the list of “stuff” I have.

  • Books
  • CDs
  • Photos
  • Clothes
  • Artwork
  • Files
  • Keepsakes
  • Games/Toys
  • Art Supplies/Tools
  • Transportation
  • Toiletries
  • Cooking Supplies
  • Movies
  • Furniture
  • STUFF-Stuff. (This is the stuffiest stuff I have.)


  • My goals as I go through this are many.
  • I want to practice detachment. Many of the things I have I keep only because they remind me of people. As I start to do this I usually stop partially through because I am reminded of the person. I’m going to find a way to keep the memory but get rid of the “thing.” I might blog more as a result, be warned.
  • I want to make use of things not in use. I think many of us have this problem - we buy something or get something “useful” but it becomes buried under so much “stuff” we never actually use this. Weeding out some “stuff” might make more room for the useful tools.
  • I believe life changes when we shift our environment. A few years ago, I stopped watching television. As a result, I think I’m able to do more, read more, act more. Less time is stripped away. I feel as though my mind has less “clutter” as far as advertisements and meaningless dialogue goes. (less, but still quite a bit. ;) ) I don’t live in a cave - I still watch things on the internet from time to time. I will watch The Office and Family Guy once in awhile, etc. The main thing is, I removed the “go home and watch TV” routine from my pattern and as a result my life as changed tremendously. I hope to have a somewhat similar result here - if I remove more clutter from my life, maybe I will have time for more creative endeavors.
  • I want to remember. As much as I don’t want things, I do want to remember. I am in the mood to trigger the memories that come from these things, and I want to remember.
  • There can be practicality here too: I think I have a few things that are new and/or unique that I will donate the Ae fundraiser or various other charity fundraisers where they can go to better use.
  • I want to share things with other people. There are things I think that I don’t use that other people could use. I think I like sharing more than I like receiving and I’m excited to surprise people with things they might like that aren't being utilized the way they can.
  • I want to inspire people. If I can do that as I give as well, that’s fantastic. (No, I’m not out to give away junk and glorify it by saying I want to inspire people, haha. I’m not cruel. An example of this may be: a few years ago I had a very nice pencil set I didn’t use frequently. I gave it a dear friend who is a much more active and fantastic artist than I could ever be. I gave it to her and she wore the pencils to nubs. THAT’s what I mean.)
  • Not to sound morbid, but the less stuff I have, the less stuff people have to deal with should I suddenly pass, or when I pass. And no, this is not part of an elaborate plan to off myself.Hopefully this will be an ongoing lifelong change.
  • My life is getting busier and busier. Wouldn’t it be nice if some aspects got simpler and simpler?
  • Through this all, I hope to gain a better understanding of myself without things. (because all too often we really do define ourselves not by who we are, but by the “stuff” we own.)

Sooo.... here goes nothing...