Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to Be OK With Not Buying Anything New

You know what I think? I think there are going to be more and more people joining my family in deciding not to buy anything new...however, you may be joining us by necessity and not by choice. You may still want all sorts of new things: the latest i-pod, computer, phone, TV, stereo, CDs, clothes, purses, shoes, toys, game systems, cars, vacations, houses, furniture, exercise equipment and etc., etc., etc.... But, because of a recent lay-off or too much credit card debt or shortened work hours or continuous temporary status (so they don't have to pay benefits--is there downward loyalty anywhere any more?) you can no longer afford to buy as you once enjoyed.

Some enjoyed buying as sport. Some enjoyed the hunt of shopping as an expression of their worth and so, to themselves and outwardly to others, their value as a person.

I'm here to say welcome to all of you! Welcome! You may not believe this, but it is not at all bad to deny yourself things. It's OK. Really. It doesn't hurt, if you realize that things are to serve you and do not define you. You are not your things. You are not your fashion or style--although, aesthetics of all sorts do help explain us to each other. Still, your look is not you. It doesn't have to be your statement about who you are to the world.

Now that you can no longer afford to buy the latest thing and will have to learn to do without, you can learn all sorts of things about what is interesting and important to you in life and in the world.

You know what's free? Your library! Well, your taxes already paid for it, so you might as well go there and enjoy yourself. Go check out a DVD, some CDs, some fiction, some non-fiction--perhaps a book or two about intentional simplicity.

You know what else is free? The woods, or a park or a city street. Go explore, for free. Go somewhere you've never gone. Go somewhere you haven't been to in a while--with the simple intent of taking it in. Not to conquer or own or purchase or demand. Just go and be. It's OK.

Go to a museum on their free day and look with a set of new eyes. See things you've never seen before. Ask questions. Be curious. Explore.

Once you're stripped of your things, and your strong connection to them, you can feel who you are inside. You can look at others differently as well. Not the latest things around that person? Not the coolest shoes? Does it matter, really? Does it?

Has it ever really mattered?

We come to the earth naked and we leave naked and we involve ourselves with things for the journey in between. But, what if the things are all weighing us down because of our relationship to them? What if we could achieve a certain sense of lightness in our lives by no longer worrying about things?

Obviously if you're poor, the worry about things will include rudimentary shelter and food and clothing. What does it say about the rest of the people who are choosing to worry about things as much as poor people do who are suffering and just struggling to survive? Why would people choose that? Why is that valued? Why do we define ourselves and each other through our things?

What about you? What do you contribute to the world? What do you give to your family and friends and causes that you care about? Do you have causes that you care about? Do you know what you believe in? Do you know what's important to you once the things are gone?

Welcome to not buying. It will be OK.


Tamsen said...

I'm back and just read your last 13 posts -- remind me to come daily, would you? I now have four links opened and have a note reminding me to send one of your You Tube posts to friends who read Lady of the Lake together. Your kids -- well I hope I can promote the same sort of mental agility in my granddaughter who is with me 10 hours a day during the week. There may be hope -- I remember my daughter telling me "You didn't raise up to think like you do. You raised us to think!" Of course this was in her teens when she didn't like some requirement or something and was trying to argue out of it. In any case, I'll continue being around. I now have 3 regular places to visit. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

I am a recovering shopper. :) The economy has forced me to focus on what my familiy really needs, not wants (right here and now, of course!) and have also been doing a lot of menu planning which is new to me. I have stopped shopping for a fun day out and I can't even begin to tell you how liberating it has been. My days have slowed down and I have enjoyed time with my children so much more. Even just puttering around the house is more enjoyable when I can enjoy a cup of tea and not rush from place to place. Have less in the house has made me appreciate what we have so much more. I know I'm not the norm, but the down turn in the economy has actually been a postive experience for me.

I don't normally use the library b/c I always wind up with hefty fines, but I have discovered a local 1/2 price book store that I LOVE. I've bought and sold and doubt I'll ever buy another used book again.


Laura said...

Wow, Tamsen--thank you so much for your complimentary words! As you said, come every day and pressure on me, of course.

"An aquatic farcical ceremony..." Hilarious, isn't it?!

I'm sure your granddaughter is plenty agile and I love what your daughter said to you--but, probably you didn't like hearing it in the heat of the moment! ;-)

Thanks for visiting!

Laura said...

Well done, Anonymous! It's nice to know what's really important to you, isn't it?

My library fines I view as a sort of charitable contribution to my community...I still haven't figured out a good system for getting things back on time. I've found some great books at Goodwill. Half Price Books is great too.

Do you have any tips for current shopaholics to curb their shopping ways?

Thanks for visiting!

Idabel Oklahoma said...

When we had the ice storm of 2000 here, and had no elec. for 13 days, our kids found out what's important. Our kids now understand board games are more fun than TV, sitting around a fire roasting marshmallows is better than video games. They understand buying Chinese made toys could cost mom and dad their job. We all need to educate our kids about not buying what we don't need now, then they won't have to be OK with it when they get the momma's.

Laura said...

Well said Idabel Oklahoma.

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