Get your motor runnin’, Day 8: Give it away, now


The official end-of-year decluttering is past and the breath of fresh air that is spring cleaning is yet to come, so most of us, I’m guessing, are in hunkered-down mode now.

I mean, why not? That’s the point of all this get-your-motor-runnin’, pushing-the-#@$*!)-boulder-up-the-#!&(@%)-hill crap is, right? To do it?

I, for one, am all for doing it, and am, in fact, doing it right now.

But what I’ve also been doing is hanging onto the “let it go” vibe even now, in January. After letting go of three gigantic cartons of books for a spectacular $80 in credit at my favorite used bookstore in the world, I was left with precisely four: an ancient copy of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a Bertolt Brecht drama based on two even older plays (and the source of yet another play that yours truly was in some 20-odd years later), heavily underlined and bearing the DYMO-embossed name of yours truly, from an old high school production; an even more ancient copy (my grandfather’s) of The Berlin Stories, Christopher Isherwood’s masterwork that served as source material for I Am a Camera, and later, Cabaret; a fairly recent copy of Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a favorite of The Youngster, whom I believe is the provenance of this particular tome; and an even more recent copy of Scary Suze Orman’s book about women and money. (Yeah, I know, which one of her books isn’t about women and money?)

I’d been driving around with them in my trunk since Saturday, which is fine, except if you know me, you know that they could rattle around in my trunk for a thousand Saturdays before I did anything about them. Maybe it was a sign to keep them! Maybe this is the Universe telling me to get back into Theater of the Metaphorical, and balance my checkbook while I’m at it.

As I walked down to my car this morning, I spied a friend across the street, out for a walk with his dog, an old friend from my theater days here in town, who is still very much in the theater, and very fine at the playwriting he does. (God willin’ and the creek don’t rise, this will be the year that brings him wider fame and fortune, or at least enough to upgrade from dial-up to high-speed. I mean, come on, how much should artists be expected to starve?)

On impulse, I popped open the trunk, grabbed the gigantic carton and ran across the street. After a quick hug (and howdy to the dog), I thrust Jekyll in his face: “Do you need this?” I asked. He took it with a funny smile, saying that in fact, he’d been obsessed with the story lately and wanting to read it.

And the Isherwood? Had he read it? Would he like that? (Oh, how Gramps would have loved knowing it was getting passed along into the hands that were ruled by this slightly twisted, oh-so-talented brain.) Yes. Yes, he would take that, too.

I looked down into the bin at Scary’s book and the falling-apart schoolgirl copy of Brecht and snapped the lid shut. Quit while you’re ahead.

There are other books of mine wending their way via cheap-ass Media Mail and the USPS to their next owners, as well. Getting rid of things lightens your load, sure, but getting rid of things in a very specific way, thoughtfully, passing them along to the next person who might need them, is almost a selfish act, it makes one feel so good and gets one’s motor running so.

My friend and sometime collaboratrix, Dyana Valentine, is doing a 40-before-40 giveaway in the days leading up to her 40th birthday. A fine, creative way to say goodbye to one decade and welcome the next.

If you have been scrupulous in your end-of-year overhaul, and if you have, bully for you, think of what resides within you that you can give away, pass along, share with others. We’ve got a monster of a mountain to move starting now, and our brilliant, beloved President-Elect has already said that he cannot do it alone. Who’s to say what could happen, but I’ll bet that a whole army of us thinking about a whole lifetime of know-how we could share with the right person(s) might get some mountains a-movin’.

If nothing else, the trying feels fantastic…


Image by DLade via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. The last time I needed to move, I spent a weekend first lightening my load. I set up two huge tables on the sidewalk outside my apartment, taped FREE STUFF signs to the ends, and carried armloads of keen (but clearly surplus) things outside to give away.

    Knowing that–as you point out–it’s easier to release my stuff to a “good home”, I took time to linger now and again indoors by my open window (out of sight) and listen in as one Lucky Winner after another came by, admired something or another, and toted it away to its new home.

    The enthusiasm of the each thing’s new owner fueled my give-it-away streak, and throughout the weekend I carried more and more things out to the sidewalk. By the time the moving truck arrived, I was WITHOUT twelve!!! boxes of stuff, and happy about the “loss”.

  2. JR – Amen. And thank you.

    NFH – Don’t run! Media Mail is slooooow.

    Leila – Smart smart smart. Part of my cleaning my space up now is to make it so I’m ready to move on a dime when the perfect place suddenly appears. Also, it’s just easier keeping less stuff clean!

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