What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

07 November 2010

Have Thought, Must Blog

I'm pretty intent on conservation in my own life; such ideas as taking care of what I have, making the most of my possessions, using things as long as possible, etc.

Hence the reason I follow (although not in a participatory sense, just yet) such things as the 100 Thing Challenge and Living on a Dime. The two sites don't have the same mission, nor the same message per se, but both address realities in my own life: I don't want to be a slave to my stuff, I do want to use my money wisely, and I have a low budget.

And as such, these sites are great. But having mixed parts of each of them to my own life philosophy, I do tend to take things differently than people around me. For instance, I was standing at the bus stop a couple of weeks ago with a young man who wanted to chat. And he wanted to chat about a sweater. Specifically, the sweater he had just seen in the store and didn't buy because he didn't really need it, but that he was planning to go back for the next day. (Apparently the "don't need it" really meant he didn't need it right that second.) He went on to tell me that he wears the stuff he really likes about once a week. And I suppressed a giggle, because since I've pared down my wardrobe, all of my everyday clothes see the outside once a week. Some of them, even more often. My dressy clothes get out about once a month.

It kind of makes me sad that our culture is so centered on stuff. And that's not even a spiritual comment (although I believe there are spiritual implications); it's just a reality of life. The more stuff I own, the more stuff I have to take care of. And insure, and worry about, and replace if something goes bad. And all of that requires an investment of time, effort, and mental energy that I'd rather spend elsewhere. I know that some people choose to spend their time on stuff-- it is a personal choice, of course-- but I'm not sure that it makes them happy. I'd hate to spend years of my life spending and accumulating, only to arrive at the end of that road and discover that the destination was not worth it. I suppose that's a risk one takes in all things, but for this in particular, I've already decided that the journey itself is not for me (the more stuff I own, the more I have to dust, after all).

It makes me particularly sad to see this trait in college students. It's hardly their fault; they've grown up in this culture, and while college is a time to evaluate one's personal values and desires, this is one that it takes people a while to get round to, partly because of the "everybody's doing it" nature of spending and having. And there are plenty of my classmates who refer to their student loan checks as "Monopoly Money", which is scary to hear. 

How do we stop the stuff-centeredness? How do we convince young people that happiness does not lie in an abundance of possessions? I wish I had an answer.

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