Saturday, February 07, 2009

A Simpler Life?

So, I've read the books...pondered hard on the theories...nodded sagely in agreement with all the polemics. "We" are overspent! Over-indebted! Over-scheduled! 

It all resonates, truly. 

And yet! When I try to take these thoughts and sort of assemble them in a way that would help me think critically upon my own life, I get - what? Uncomfortable? Squirmy? Defensive is probably the right word. Against no one but myself, of course, since it's not like anyone's ever accused me of living an overly superficial or materialistic life (to my face anyway! And husbands don't count!). It's probably a pretty common knee-jerk reaction, because it makes us uncomfortable when our petty rationalizations start to smell a little funky even to ourselves. "Well, when other people do or buy or borrow or revere those things, they're being superficial or materialistic...when I do it, it's because I really need those things! Or because I rarely treat myself! Or because I'm actually SAVING myself time and money in the long run. And my carbon footprint isn't that big anyway so I can afford to indulge a little here and there." Mmmm-hmm.

My awful hypocrisy is revealed pretty much on a weekly basis, when I go through my closets and cupboards and it seems like I throw out at least 30% of my stuff. Not that it makes a difference to how it all looks!? Everything's still stuffed to the very edge. *puzzled* That's probably a separate confession in the making on my general organization skills.

My first year sociology prof told us that it's a fallacy to think that we live in an "acquisitive" society. We may think we do, but if that were the case, we'd just have our stuff piled up everywhere. We're actually a society that likes to throw things out and is obsessed with new, better, revamped, improved. And that is absolutely me! Today I threw out every single one of my lipsticks. Why do I even have lipstick?? I never wear it! I also have at least eight different brands of moisturizer and body butter. Why? I never use them! And yet I recall having made special trips to the Body Shop and Aveda and Sephora because I just had to have them. Meep. We clear out bags and bags of things on a regular basis but I guess we're just making room for more, because we never lack for stuff! And at any given moment I could rhyme off pages of things that I want. 

Maybe I have a stuff-shaped other people have god-shaped holes? I could be onto something, right? Look out for my book!


Lesley said...

I don't even know where to start on this. I admit it. I am like you. Perhaps not to the same extent (hee hee), but we are definitely an 'acquisitive' society. But, I am trying to change that. Why, you ask? Because in October, DH and I went to Cambodia for a holiday. It was there we talked to this little Cambodian girl, who couldn't even afford shoes for school, yet was SO happy to just talk to foreigners. We met another young man that earns $10/month 'maintaining' one of the temples, but wanted to take us around (even though he wasn't really supposed to because they're supposed to be certified to do that) - because he wanted to practice his English with us, so he could get a better job to make more money to send home to his family in the village. He wouldn't even take money from us after we offered, he just said he was glad we stopped to talk to him because most people don't even bother.

I looked at what I learned on that particular leg of the trip - these people have next to nothing (literally - seriously, that little girl had to BORROW her shoes from a friend so she could go to school, then runs around barefoot the rest of the day!) but they didn't show an ounce of self-pity for their lives. That amazed me. They were happy. *gasp* Huh?!

So, I decided when I came home, I can also *try* and be happy without material things. Yes, I fail most of the time, but I am at least trying to be consciously aware of it. So far, so good. Knock on wood. Sorry for the long post! :)

Judit Z said...

We are like children who never grow up... to children, it's about *getting*, not about having. The new toy is the fun toy, but so often and so quickly the interest in that toy is lost. So we too, adults, lose interest in our "new toy" and have to go out and buy more stuff... to keep us entertained.
It also reminds me of my two dogs getting their cheese treat in the morning. They *LOVE* treat (mozzarella, cheddar, it does not matter what, as long as it is cheese). The trick is to cut it into tiny pieces. Because it is all about *getting* the treat. They gulp it down without practically tasting it. A big piece disappears in precisely the same time as the tiny piece. So they are much more happy getting many tiny pieces than one enormous piece. So we are too, humans, with our constant need for getting *more*, regardless of size. We want/need that Christmas tree with a gazillion boxes of presents underneath it - preferably all year around.