Over the years, I’ve noticed how easy it is to accumulate ‘things.’ A friend goes on vacation and brings back a souvenir from a place I’ve never been to. Another friend gives me something that doesn’t go with a thing in my house. I’m encouraged to participate in a holiday ‘gift’ exchange to receive something I would never have gotten myself. My tables get buried under magazines I haven’t read. I ‘win’ a prize someone has carefully selected from the dollar store. My shelves get full of books I only bought one at a time.
Getting hit with boredom, I think of acquiring that little something, subconsciously accepting the media hype that buying something will placate the gnawing emptiness. Usually it’s just a matter that my body/mind is telling me I need to do something or stop doing something, not a real matter of needing to continue to crowd my environment.
Occasionally, I slip up, and I have one more ‘thing’ that owns me. (We don’t own things, they own us. Think about it!) My excuses? It’s cute, it’s new, it won’t take much space. The reality, If it’s alive, it needs to be fed, watered, pruned, walked, or taken to the vet. If it’s inanimate, I find myself dusting it, washing it, repairing it (or paying to have it repaired), or horrors! replacing it when I wasn’t sure I wanted it in the first place.
If it’s mechanical, I may delude myself into thinking buying it will solve a problem, but guaranteed, it will find the most inopportune time to stop working. After all, the dishwasher didn’t decide to break until it was absolutely full. I have found that if I rely less on some of those things I used to take for granted, it simplifies things. For two years I have done my dishes by hand. And with one person, I’m not so sure I really need to replace the dishwasher. Although one of the principles of Feng Shui is that I should not have broken things in my house.
If I’m realistic, breaking at the most inopportune time isn’t always the case. My last car died on the way to church. Things would have been a lot more exciting if it had choked to a stop during rush hour, and if I hadn’t been able to floor it into a grocery store parking lot. When I went back to the lot later to clean the last of my things out of the trunk, it was still making sputtering noises all on its own. I kind of felt like a crab, shedding a too-small shell, and leaving behind an empty discard. Except the empty casing was my car, the one I had driven for seven years. I felt an odd sense of loss.
Shedding the material things in life, the little accumulations, gives us the opportunity to grow. Doing without, or adding things, lets us redefine who we are. But in the redefinition, are you moving closer to who you really are, or how the world tells you to define yourself?
What, in your life, do you take for granted that you don’t really need?
What are you adding to your life as a substitute for what you really want?
Copyright © 2011 Sandra Kischuk and Living Beyond Limits. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sandra Kischuk and Living Beyond Limits with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.