Friday, February 12, 2010

Rambling: Perfume and Hoarding and Catch and Release

I read a lot of murder mysteries.

For years, maybe decades, I've read several paperback murder mysteries every month. I used to read a murder mystery, put it on a shelf, read the next one, put it on a shelf, and watch the books pile up - stacked to fill all that overhead space in the shelf, double and triple shelved to fill the front and back space. When we moved, we moved box after box after box of just murder mysteries - and that's ignoring all the other books.

At some point, I realized that I don't actually need to keep every book I read. I can buy it (preferably used), read it, enjoy it, and get rid of it. I recently wrote about this over in the declutter blog. So now I have one shelf for the paperback murder mysteries that I love and re-read, half a shelf for the hardbacks, and a shelf for the mysteries that are waiting to be sold back to the bookstore. This leaves more room for, say, garden books. Or perfume.

So, getting back on topic: Perfume. I just posted about the Tasting Menu philosophy of perfume freakery, the idea being that I continue to shovel in samples like a desperate squirrel preparing for winter, sniff them, enjoy them, and not torture myself over favorites and prioritizing and bottle purchases. Much.

And give them away, even many of the nice ones. Catch and release. I realized today, while wondering if I could really do this, that I already do it with murder mysteries. When I started getting rid of mysteries, I went through worrying that I'd miss them, that they'd haunt me, that I'd remember the characters and want to spend time with them again. And I got over it, and now I merrily toss the just-read book in the "sell" stack, even while I'm still being happy about how good it was.

Also, as I mentioned in the discussion of that post, I think that "catch and release" is a good exercise for a person, like me, who has hoarding in the family. Hoarding is, I believe, about fear of decisions, fear of mistakes, and inability to prioritize. So each time that I de-prioritize something and make a permanent decision to give it away counts as a Healthy Exercise. And if I make a mistake and wish I had it back? Another Healthy Exercise, as I experience the fact that the mistake didn't kill me, or turn me into a Horrible Mistake Monster that makes children point and laugh when I go out in public.

So I'm sold on the Tasting Menu strategy. Though I'm sure that I'm not done talking about it, or perfume hoarding.

Photo: By Quadell. Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Another great post on this important topic.

    I know that for me there's that fear of regret-- that fear of "What if I want to experience that ________ (book, smell, whatever) again, and I can't find it?"

    I think there is fear of not ever having enough in that feeling. And, additionally, the fear that important experiences can somehow be taken from you, and that memories are not enough.

    Buddhists say that that attachment-- to stuff, to the past, to memories, is the root of all suffering.

    (Don't mind me-- I'm thinking into the keyboard over here...)

    Thought-provoking post-- thanks!!

  2. Yes, great post, and I think LCN/Buddha is on to something with attachment being the root of all suffering. I practise "catch and release" routinely with samples, and mean to do it more with books than I do, but there is rather too much of my father's daughter in me...

    I have regretted giving away some samples, but it is a small puff of regret that blows off fairly shortly. And better a small puff than a home full of stuff.

  3. Thanks, LCN.

    Yes, that fear is powerful. After seeing what it does, I'm more and more driven to defy it, though. To actually walk up to it (by obtaining something beautiful like a perfume sample) and slap it in the face (by getting rid of the something beautiful). It's a sort of emotional muscle that I want to strengthen as I get older, because that's when people seem to really give into hoarding.

    flittersniffer, I like the image of the puff of regret. I've seen the consequences of the hoarding, so I should fear that much more than the regret.

    On books, I suspect that I can let them go more easily because I essentially grew up in a house without books - we had a few, but very few worth reading. We went to the library every single week, so I suppose that that was a childhood full of catch and release practice, with books.