Over the years I’ve become familiar with the term “downsizing,” not only as a word but as a reality in my own life. It started almost fourteen years ago, in 1999 when my father died and we tried to help mom sell the farm and narrow down her belongings enough that she could move in with us.
“Oh no, you can’t give that away,” she insisted as I reached into a musty old box and pulled out a moth-eaten once-pink sweater. “My friend Rose gave me that when we were still in high school.”
“Mom,” I argued, “that was sixty years ago, and Rose has been dead for five of them. Do you really think you’re ever going to wear this?”
Of course she wasn’t, but that didn’t dissuade her one bit. The pink sweater stayed.
I then began to dig through file cabinets chock full of old bank statements—some from as far back as 1947 when she and Dad first married.
“Mom, surely you don’t need to keep these.”
“Yes, I do,” she insisted. “Your father told me to never throw out receipts or bank statements.”
Sigh. It was a fight to the finish, but with the help of two new storage sheds in our backyard, we finally got Mom moved in.
And then, on August 4, 2011, she “graduated to heaven.” A few weeks later I forced myself to sort through the many items she had left behind. Those old bank statements went into the shredder, the pink sweater received a long-overdue burial in the trash can. Other items—the birthstone ring we kids gave Mom years earlier and she thought she’d lost; her favorite gravy boat; black-and-white WW II photos—became cherished mementos to be divided between myself and my brothers. Everything else? Downsized.
I learned a lot from all that downsizing, and I now find myself applying it to my writing as I narrow down what’s REALLY important, what I REALLY need to invest time in. And all that seems natural. But what surprised me is that I recently realized how the concept of downsizing has affected my reading choices as well.
There was a time, in my younger days, when I read anything I came across—books, magazines, newspapers, billboards, cereal boxes…you get the drift. But that has changed lately. Though I regularly read the Bible and a devotional book or two, I’ve found that I’ve become a bit pickier about how I spend my personal reading time (i.e., NOT study or research reading). It certainly isn’t because there isn’t a wealth of wonderful books to choose from, but suddenly much of what I used to enjoy reading simply doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I find myself getting a lot pickier about my reading choices, and that concerned me at first. Was I becoming snooty or judgmental?
And then it hit me. God was just “downsizing” me in all areas of my life, helping me to prioritize my time and focus on my own “graduation to heaven” when, like my mom, I will leave all the “stuff” behind—even my books!
Sort of puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it?