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A sigh echoed through my being as I saw the name of a book on the reading list for my course.
A book that I had purchased several years ago, kept dutifully, and even opened once or twice, and then, in my stages of decluttering given to charity. I was filled with the frustration of having to repurchase the book and the foolishness of giving it away in the first place.
There was even a sense of shame at having been so arrogant to give away something that I would later need. Was I saying I was too good for this book? And yet, now I needed it.
My second copy of the book arrived within hours, and I immediately placed it on my shelf where the first copy had been. The brightness of the book’s spine was haunting me from the corner of my room.
Then I began to use the book, to turn every page, to highlight, and to fold down the corners. I didn’t love everything I read, and I didn’t always do my weekly homework, but the book was an active part of my life. The lesson to me became shiningly clear, like a beam of a torch breaking down the musty dark and illuminating the shame and frustration, and allowing it to be what it really was: freedom.
Letting go of the book had given me freedom. Freedom from the guilt of feeling like I must read it. Freedom from trying to read it and the fear of failure of not succeeding. The physical freedom of space on my shelf. The freedom of releasing the “should.”
I’m not a minimalist and I don’t have just 33 items of clothing. But I do believe, even more so now, the ideas that lie behind it. I have less stuff than the average person, but more than the average minimalist (I believe). But this is not a post about minimalism.
This is about releasing ourselves from the freedom of what we feel we should do and say and read and act. This moment with the book above inspired me to clear out more of what I was holding on to, because I felt I should. A pile of books I should read. A pile of clothes I should keep. A bag of odd items I should perhaps need one day in the future.
Having to buy a second copy of this book was not a waste. It was a beautiful realisation of the freedom I had gained by releasing the book in the first place. The months of space without the guilt and the feelings of “should” that that had brought.
More so, I believe that what is meant for us will always find us. The letting go of ideas and thoughts of what we feel we must do is liberating. It creates freedom and space to be and do more of what we truly love. To read books we want to read, to be as we want to be, to do as we want to do—and to live a more authentic life.
Let’s get rid of the “shoulds,” and let’s give ourselves the freedom to live more freely.