I suffered something of a personal disaster today.
Anyone who knows me knows I adore books – they are one of my passions and my main source of entertainment; I look after them carefully, and keep only my absolute favourites in my permanent collection (the others get donated to libraries and charities when I am finished with them), jealously guarding the limited space I have for them.
At present, much of our belongings are still in storage, as we continue to wait for a moving date into our new home (it’s frustrating playing the waiting game, but we’ll get there eventually!). Today we received notification that our new sofas will be delivered next week. Their delivery cannot be delayed, so as we had to clear some space in the place we’re storing all our things, we went round there this afternoon to do that.
On moving some of the boxes, we discovered that two boxes of books had got damp on their undersides. So damp that they had rotted through and destroyed the bottom layer of books in each one. This, in itself, would have been bad enough, but one of the books that was irreparably damaged was a beautifully-bound, author-signed, limited edition, worth around £150.
I was absolutely gutted. My initial reaction was that I would rather have lost every other book and kept that one, as it’s one of my personal favourites, and with with added financial value, made its loss rather a blow.
As I sorted through my ruined books, rescuing those I could and making a list of those that could not be saved, I found myself minding less and less. And here’s why:
- It could have been much worse – I could have lost ALL my books.
- It could have been much, MUCH worse – I could have lost family photographs.
- I was planning on whittling down my permanent collection when we moved anyway, this just brought part of the job forward a little.
- I would have spent weeks and weeks agonising over which books to remove from my collection and which to keep.
- It made me realise exactly which books I loved the most (so I know exactly which ones I desperately want to replace).
- None of the books are absolutely irreplaceable.
- They are only possessions.
Once I’d realised all of this, I found it didn’t matter even half as much as I’d initially thought, and by the time we got in the car to come home, I was over it.
In the end, I’ve decided that this was actually a positive. Yes, I have lost a pile of books, and those books, if they ended up in the “not keeping” pile, could have been donated elsewhere, but I actually lost precious few that I would have been keeping, and those I did lose are not irreplaceable. I now also know exactly which books are most important to me, and I have proven to myself, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that possessions are not everything – there are far more important things in life.
So, overall, I’m actually feeling very positive about it all and not anywhere near as sad as I thought I would be. The damaged books have now been consigned to the recycling bin, and I know exactly which books I will be keeping when we come to re-sort everything, and which ones will be donated to libraries and charities.
Goodbye, dead and mouldy books. I loved you well, but it’s time for you to go.
And that’s how you turn a negative into a positive.