Famous last words


My last word on bookweeding, I promise. But talking about downsizing a book collection seems to have struck a chord with quite a few bloggers. As I go on to tackle my journal and magazine hoard I was struck by a parable that fellow book blogger Sari recounts which I thought would help firm my resolve. Who knows, it may help anybody else involved in the same painful process of decimation.

In her post, Sari talks about saying goodbye to books. As she sat staring at a particular group of books, an old Buddhist story came to mind.

A student was eager to learn more and more about Buddhism. He wanted to be a great Buddhist master. His teacher told him that Buddhism was like a boat. The boat can only get you across a river. After that, you have a choice; you can either tie up the boat and continue on foot, or you can drag the boat with you everywhere you go. At some point your education must come to an end. At some point the Buddhist principles are a part of you. There is no more reason to try to grasp at Buddhism as you travel through life.

Sari noted that the same held true for the books on Buddhism she had in front of her. They had served their purpose.

Now I can’t at this point entirely divest myself of books; I’m not like that literary creation who had no need of a personal library — save one book, a Bradshaw’s railway timetable and guide. But as I contemplate a hoped-for move I have to think, do I want to drag a metaphorical vessel along with me? The image does help to focus the mind.

And you may like to know — and it’s no joke — that I am really finding it easier to resist buying any more books until I’ve read the ones I’ve already got. Perhaps I’m waiting till I land up in a new port before considering new ones. But for the moment my catchphrase is ‘to moor is less’.

Boats moored in Solva harbour, Pembrokeshire

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