Aug 21

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Clearing the bookshelf

I have a lot of books.  Really…a LOT of books. Last night I decided to review my bookshelves with a singular question in mind: “If I were to move, would I want to carry this book with me?”

I went through the three bookcases in my bedroom and with that criteria, I managed to take about 20 books off the shelves.  Which was only a very small dent.

There were two books in particular that stumped me – Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and A New Earth.  I’ve tried to read each of them and for some reason they just don’t connect with me. I’ve never gotten more than a few pages in.

As I sorted my books, I was chatting with a friend on the phone. I mentioned to him that I was having a conundrum – keep the books because I know they’re something I should want to read, or get rid of them because they’ve been sitting their unread for so long?

As I said that out loud, I realized – I feel guilty every time I look at these books.  So many other people have gotten so much out of them, clearly I’m the faulty one for not getting into them.

That did it – if the books bring up a consistent feeling of guilt in me, they’ve gotta go. Why not fill those spaces on my bookshelves with books that make me happy??

Problem solved.

All this happened in my head in a split second.  Then my friend said something else interesting: “Yes, they’re good books, but he’s saying the same thing that a hundred other teachers are saying, just in his own words.”

Which reminded me of another truth that I’ve been learning many times the last few years – there may be hundreds or thousands of teachers who are teaching the same material.  And that’s okay because the student will find the particular teacher who is speaking in the words and the tone that speaks to him or her.

A friend told me a parable about Jesus once that really affected me. I don’t know my Bible verses so I can’t tell you the exact story but it’s something like this… Jesus was herding sheep and he said that he never worried about his sheep wandering off to another shepherd because his sheep knew his song.  Likewise, he didn’t worry about another shepherd’s sheep mistakenly joining his flock, because those sheep knew their shepherd’s song.

We each know and recognize our teachers when we see them or hear them.  We can trust ourselves to recognize our teachers and we can trust ourselves to pass by the teachers who don’t work for us.

Likewise, as teachers we can trust that the right students will find us.  We don’t need to worry that there are too many teachers… and some of them are working in ways that make us uncomfortable… and some of them are only out for money… and they don’t teach the way we would…and students are learning things in a way that doesn’t seem right… and… and… and… and… and…

Ultimately each student will find the teacher who is singing their song.

It’s not my business who is teaching what and how.  The only thing that is my business is to teach the people who find me and to keep doing my own internal work so that I’m the best teacher I know how to be.

All that from a few books on a bookshelf.  Thanks Mr. Tolle.  I may not have read your books, but they gave me some important insights anyway. 🙂

About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.leahcarey.com/themiraclejournal/2011/08/21/clearing-the-bookshelf/


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  1. Michael Thompson

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ1wtftL3nA – Inspired by the book… Dave is a local Singer Songwriter – you may have heard of his youtube hit “United Breaks Guitars” check them out. Thanks for reminding me of this song right now I can really use it…

  2. Maria

    Short for time now. This link to my blog might be relevant to you. http://abundancepractice.wordpress.com/2011/08/18/treasure-hunting/

  3. Gina

    The parable you referred to is in the gospel of John. It’s John 10:1-21, commonly referred to as “Jesus is The Good Shepherd.” I was familiar with the part about the sheep knowing His voice. But the second part did not sound right to me, so I referred to my Bible to read the entire parable.

    If you read the entire parable, Jesus is not saying that there is another shepherd’s song, or other flocks or teachers to follow. He’s actually affirming that HE is the good Shepherd. The ones that hear his voice and know Him are believers who are following Him. THEY won’t follow a stranger for they know His (Jesus’s) voice. The parable goes onto say that as the good shepherd, Jesus gave his life for his sheep. It does go onto say that there are “other” sheep that are not in this sheepfold. BUT, it then says that “I must bring them in also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” So Jesus acknowledges that there are obviously, those who don’t believe in Him out there, but says that because He gave his life for all his sheep, both jews and gentiles, someday all believers will be part of one flock.

    I thought you also had a good point about teachers that might be out there just for the money. This parable also addresses this…the parable has Jesus as the good shepherd who lays down His life versus the “hired hand” who runs when the wolf attacks because he’s only in it for the money, not because he really cares about the sheep.

    Isn’t that true? Haven’t we seen many examples over the years of those who led people astray with “truth”, but were really out for the money instead?

    I understand what you were saying though – so many people have jumped onto his books, that you wonder what you’re not “getting.” I wouldn’t feel guilty about it…there are plenty of other great books out there to read!

    Thanks for a very interesting blog post…I enjoyed it.
    ~ Gina

  4. Maria

    I love your Miracle Journal. Would it be o.k. if I put a link to your blog on my blog. I really think it could prove to be a good benefit to many. Maria

  5. Leah Carey

    Michael, I love that you have a song for everything. Please keep sharing the music! 🙂

  6. Leah Carey

    Gina, thank you so much for sharing the actual Bible verse and the Biblical interpretation. VERY interesting!

  7. Leah Carey

    Thanks Maria, I’d be honored!

  8. thomas cross

    very good. why dont you wait for something to happen in the future. Which doesnt exist. Like your teacher to arrive. The fact that you seem to have so many books telling you the same thing indicates something. bit like arriving in a restuarant anouncing your sooo hungry and then turning your nose up at every dish offered ! Ill bet you could get rid of all those books and withing five years your bookshelf will be full of more Unhappy books.

  9. Leah Carey

    Hi Thomas, Thanks for your comment. I mean that sincerely because it brought me to another level of appreciation and understanding: http://www.themiraclejournal.com/2011/10/11/looking-for-a-fight/

    I hope that you have a great day and that you found what you were looking for when you happened upon my blog.

  10. Debra

    Occasionally I stumble upon an old posting listed at the bottom of your site that is just what I’m thinking about now. This one from August 2011 on clearing the bookshelf hit on my own challenge with “what’s clutter, what’s part of me that I’m not ready to give up.” I, too, have so many books–a family trait, apparently–including those that, try as I might, I just can’t get through, but just can’t give up. I once heard Peter Walsh, of clutter-busting fame, ask a woman why she found it so hard to let go of the books that were filling her bookshelves and closets and were stacked in piles all around her too-small bedroom. She said that having those books, both read and unread, spoke to her intelligence and knowledge and general “well-read-ness” and they made her feel positive about herself in that way. While many of us have certain books we read over and over (mine being “Travels with Charley”, “Harpo Speaks” and “The Great Fair”), most of them are the ones we think we might read or read again, or might use for reference or were a gift or just seem like something an intelligent person should have on his/her bookshelf. Peter talked about the relief that can come from letting go of the idea that the book says something about us–rather just enjoying the ones we can and moving them on to someone else to enjoy (or not).
    So, while I’m not ready to give up my 50+ books on the Holocaust, I’m pretty sure I can get rid of my General Psych textbook from 30 years ago along with the Tom Robbins books I just don’t understand. Maybe the Bobbsey Twins, but not yet Nancy Drew . . .

  1. The Miracle Journal » Looking for a fight?

    […] someone named Thomas put up a comment on the post Clearing the Bookshelf, in which I talked about letting go of books that brought up a sense of guilt in me because I felt […]

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