Summer 2011 discardia notes

Discardia is a quarterly holiday where we decide to let go of some things around us in order to make way to do things for the new season. It's a modern invention of Dinah Sanders, who writes about it at The season runs from the solstice or equinox to the following new moon. For summer 2011, the dates are June 21 through July 1.

For my kids, Lego is the part of their existence which most calls out for straightforward decisionmaking to create order amidst the chaos. Before you can do a rebuild of a model that you already have, you need to find all of the impossibly tiny scattered pieces that make it up. A multipart storage box container is a great way to occupy a small boy's hour cleaning and sorting, because only when you have all of the yellow pieces together do you find the tiny Lego-sized firefighters accessories. Once you get down to the level that you can find the tiny black fireman's axe, the small child is content to build with it rather than agitate to buy more.

Books are my bane of accumulation existence, to the point where deciding what to do with them takes more energy than actually reading them. We have used Paperback Swap to maintain a steady state of inventory and still get new reading materials, and Books By Chance to dispose of surplus. Fortunately, the Lego situation (q.v.) is under control enough that I have reclaimed one bookshelf, which is being carefully curated as best I can to contain the collection that I would keep if it were my only shelf of books. Every decision to add to it means there's a corresponding decision to remove a book, and that keeps the shelf from accumulating dust and ennui.

The element of my life that absorbs more time than it should is the Internet, especially the Internet of flitting around from site to site trying to decide that someone has written something new worth writing. My self control is weak for shiny new things, but what I have discovered is that I can replace self control with ritual sometimes, and a ritual of writing on a specific topic for a specific person rather than reading aimlessly repays the time. I don't know yet how to cure a ritual addiction to being online, though Paul Jones's "no email" project points to one way to discard a portion of the online existence while staying connected.

Thanks to Dinah Sanders for the "decide and do" theme for this season's Discardia. John Weise and Stephanie Bentley run Books By Chance, a consignment used bookstore which helps deal with my book surplus. Duane Collicott's Bricks for Brains provides an annual Lego surplus at Brick Bash. Reach Paul Jones by any of a thousand online systems, all except email. LEGO is a registered trademark owned by the LEGO Group, and don't you forget it.


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