After a decade of teaching (which includes seven years of grad school), I was finally able to find huge chunks of time to sort and clean out my piles of books, readings, teaching materials, cds, and other personal paraphernalia. Although I often try to do a regular semestral purge, the past few days have truly been an eye-opener for me: purging is emotional. Posessions, no matter how insignificant-looking, often hold emotional value. We keep some possessions for the memory of days gone by, we keep some for fear of needing them later, and some we keep just to fill a physical void.
In one day of uncluttering alone, I was able to haul out four medium-sized plastic bags filled with stuff I didn’t need—useless trash. In that single day, I also realized I owned (and kept in eternal useless storage) a lot of books and materials that were still in mint condition, but better off given to someone who would actually use them. I felt guilty realizing that all those years, I kept these things to myself, just putting them in storage when someone else could’ve been blessed by reading them, by using them, or by sharing them. I didn’ want to throw these things away now that I needed space for uncluttering. Nor did I want to include them in a garage sale our family holds every few years. I figured, finding a good home for my very useful, but often neglected possessions would be a good opportunity to reconnect with my friends and to bless them as well.
Hence, I unofficially launched the Milk Tea Exchange Project.
Milk Tea Exchange with Ate Miles and Sam
The rules are simple: I’m giving away books, cds, trinkets, and other still-useful paraphernalia. If interested, let me know which genres (or types of trinkets) you need and I will try to find some for you. Then, we decide where and when you can meet me for an exchange: a cup of matcha red bean milk tea for the bag of books/cds/toys-trinkets (or a combination thereof) that I will give you. The bonus: hours of catching up.
Why milk tea? Because milk tea is less expensive than specialty coffee, and because milk tea sounds much more casual than coffee is. By doing a simple exchange, I hope to be able to lessen my stash of unused belongings, bless a friend, and spend time building relationships. Since I started announcing my project, I’ve repackaged six recyclable bags (to give away to six different groups and individuals) and tonight was my first successful Milk Tea Exchange. I haven’t been able to spend quality time with Ate Miles and her daughter Sam in months, and today was just the perfect opportunity to give her a book for a collection I know she is still trying to complete.
Bags packed for future exchanges.
In spite of the torrential late afternoon rain, we huddled together in a quiet tea shop and spent hours talking, laughing, and catching up. Ate Miles got her Left Behind book for her collection (and then some), and I got my milk tea with a bonus of pepper tofu and a special chauffer-driven ride back home! That was just beyond what I imagined my Milk Tea Exchange to be.
Photos courtesy of Ate Miles
Next Saturday, I already have another Milk Tea Exchange scheduled! It will be a different adventure. I just hope that my exchanges will bless my friends, and that the things I have kept in storage for so long will finally be put to good use.