Sunday, April 21, 2013

How I Spent $476.50 Selling My Books (aka: it can be expensive to ignore your inner voice)

As a follow-up to the piece about giving away my table, here's another story about stuff:

I had a stack of books I felt I "should" sell.

Installation of falling books by Alicia Martin

That "should" should have been a red flag.  Usually when I feel I should do something, I have my psychic undies in a bunch.

As part of getting ready to leave home and jobs to travel the world, Dave and I have been slowly but surely paring down our already pretty pared-down life.  

Being a book maven, I have books I've carried with me from move to move to move.  Geez, they are heavy.  Yes, each one has special meaning to me.  And I guess, suddenly, I was thinking they were valuable.  And I must have been  unconsciously equating value with money.

So I called the fabulous Logos bookstore to make an appointment.  The morning of the appointment, I woke feeling like I didn't want to lug those books downtown.  I was tempted to cancel the appointment.

I started thinking about how I'd been putting aside special books that I felt "belonged" with certain friends:  the signed Gloria Steinem to the most flourishing feminist, the stack of memoirs to my nonfiction professor friend, the piles of poetry books to my poet laureate pal, the self-help stack to my friend who wants to change her mind and her life...

But for some reason, these other boxes I felt I had to sell.

If I'd listened to my inner voice, I would have cancelled the appointment and let the books sit in their boxes for a while until I was inspired to a) sell them, b) give them to students or friends, or c) donate them.

But, no, I had an appointment.

So I dragged those damn boxes into the trunk of the car.  I couldn't find a spot close to the store, so I parked illegally in the back.  Tension gives you tunnel vision:  instead of noticing Logos had dollies conveniently placed at the door, I hand-dragged each box into the store, one by one, sweating like Richard Nixon debating JFK.

The polite bookseller gave me a receipt and told me he could have my total in the afternoon.

The afternoon?  I'd have to come back?

By now I could feel I was entirely out of alignment with my inner peace.  What would have been really, really good for me would have to find Davis Sedaris book, sit in one of the store's comfy chairs, and laugh my way to feeling better.  Or get an herbal tea and walk through downtown in search of cute dogs and kids.

Instead, I got back in my car.  Good thing you can't get a DUI for driving under the influence of spiritual pandemonium.

Because I'd parked illegally, I was now blocked in.  Thus, I began to eke my car down a narrow alley that I was sure led to the next street.  Indeed it did; and the street was blocked by a huge truck with its ramp down, in unloading mode.  I was in such a tight spot I felt like I couldn't back up.  So I decided to try to get around this massive truck by squeezing by it via the sidewalk.

As I attempted this maneuver, I heard a sickening squuuueeeeeeeeeeeeee of metal on metal:  the right side of my car scraping against a light pole.

God knows why even in this intense state of stupid resistance, the universe provides me with a guardian angel.  A scruffy guy--he may have been homeless--guided me out of the mess, helping me to back up and get to the street.

I'd love to say this was my wake-up call.  That I had an enlightened epiphany that it's infinitely better to trust myself than to fight against the grain of my natural, loving, peaceful, abundant inner light.

I know I have a choice about how to respond to life:  Freak out.  Or get curious.

But apparently you don't just learn that and know it forever more.

I freaked out.  I cried.  I railed against fate.  I came home and attacked Dave, my beloved husband.

Once my tantrum simmered down, I took some deep breaths and did what would have been in my best interest to do that morning (after cancelling the book-selling appointment):  I went for a long walk on the beach.

A lot of thoughts went through my mind:  how when I would do something like dent a car as a teenager, I was worried about getting in trouble; how resisting getting rid of my books might point to unconscious fears I have about leaving home; how I identify so strongly with the written word that shedding books with no "return value" might be making wonder about my own value...

Then I sat in the sand and and watched the white peak of the waves arc then flatten into eternal blue, again and again.  I thanked my mind for trying to get to the bottom of it, and then I asked for some non-thinking time.  There I sat.  Just me.  Being.  Not figuring anything out.  Not resisting.  Just allowing the moment to unfold.

Later that afternoon, Logos gave me $23.50 for the six books they wanted.  The rest, they said, I could take back, or they would donate them to Goodwill.  I let them go.

Weeks later, we paid the $500 deductible to fix the car damage.

I got off easy.  It cost me only $476.50 to re-learn the lesson I learned as a kid:  The best way to live is not to force yourself up-river but instead to row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.

After all, life is but a dream.
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