The house, even now, 5 full days after Christmas is full of junk. The floor is littered with pieces of cardboard packaging, little bits of plastic. Toys have taken over the living room and while it is a joyful scene I feel like we are choking on our abundance.
This was a leaner Christmas than ones past. I made a conscious decision to limit what we would receive, what we would get. And still, it seems like there is too much. Too much in a house that was already bursting at the seams. I have periodically taken long weekends to declutter, hired dumpsters and practically rented a my own personal truck to take unneeded goods to Goodwill. But still, the things in our life seem to be taking over no matter how hard I try. It is time for radical action.
This coming year I am considering an experiment. An experiment about consuming less. I am considering not buying anything unless we need it.
This is not an easy endeavor. And if I am completely honest I have to admit that I am both overwhelmed and terrified about making this commitment. Like every other red-blooded American who grew up in times of plenty, I have been and am susceptible to comfort shopping. I blunt my discomfort with excess. And then I grow fat, weary and a bit numb.
So I am, slowing, easing into a year without stuff. But what does it mean not to buy something unless you “need” it. What do we really need anyway? Need is such a loaded word, a word that is more illusion than reality. We need air, water and something to eat. Does saying that we won’t buy it unless we need it simply mean–nothing but food, electricity, heat and medicine…clothes for Max when his get too small? Or does it simply mean I am eliminating splurge/impulse buys?
What are the rules? What are the limits? How does one design something like this that will work? Am I simply formalizing the rules I have tried to live by or am I really trying to create new shifts in this house?
I have thought long and hard about it. I am still working it out. I am trying to figure out what does it mean.
What does it mean to have a consumption free year…What kind of things can we consume? Food is a given, but what about other things? I am giving up services too–like dance class and guitar lessons (NO!) but then what about the things I “need” for those activities. What if I lose my guitar tuner? What if I “need” new picks. And what about birthdays? Christmas? While giving up my Starbucks seems reasonable–am I also giving up treating Max and his friends to icecream?
I am thinking long and hard about our goals…what I am trying to teach Max…what I am trying to learn myself and I am trying to create reasonable guidelines that will help us grow and will create radical shifts without being so impossible and scary that I get paralyzed. If you have any ideas I would love to hear them. If you have ever done such a thing I would love to hear what worked for you.
I have decided that along with my other posts I will try and keep a record of this year here on this blog. It could be quite ordinary and boring….or it could create radical shifts. I don’t know. Its OK not to know. And I’ve told myself that it is OK if this experiment is not perfect or saintly or radical enough. Its enough just to play with the possibilities and give it a whirl…isn’t it?
I wonder what will come of it? I wonder what may happen or open up or close down for us? I wonder…