Sunday, March 14, 2010


Lately I've been thinking a lot about "things."  You know the things that own us, I mean we own.  But really it seems as if the very things that are supposed to bring us happiness and comfort often cause us pain and discomfort.  Many years ago I had a friend comment that she started examining the various manuals for automobiles, appliances, and electronics and also reading articles about how to care for our bodies and our health.  She concluded that if we did all the suggested maintenance on ourselves and our possessions, we wouldn't have time for anything else.  However, if we don't follow the guidelines for either our things or our bodies, they wear out quickly and die.  Of course, we must care for our bodies because the death of our bodies means the end of us.  But what about all of our possessions?  We're supposed to change the oil, replace the belts, clean out or replace the filters, sand and paint the rusty spots, scrub and clean, ad nauseum.  By keeping up with all the maintenance, we become slaves to our things; ignoring it all means costly replacements.  

Lately, I've been wondering about a third way - finding a way back to the basics, to really look at what is essential to our lives and eliminate the superfluous.  It's just so darned hard in these modern times to determine what is and isn't essential.  For Lent I gave up unnecessary spending and it has been somewhat liberating to me.  It has helped simplify my life.  I make fewer trips into town, spend less time on the internet, and have fewer decisions to make.  If it's not needed, then I don't do it or buy it.  

So now, about halfway through Lent, I'm starting to look to the future, to think about how I'll behave after "Not a Cent for Lent" is over.  I've decided I want to have a wardrobe of simple, basic clothes that I love and that doesn't require a lot of maintenance.  I don't have a huge wardrobe now but I want to make sure future purchases make sense for me and my lifestyle.  I've been extremely busy around the farm lately and have taken to wearing just jeans and long-sleeve t-shirts and sweaters.  I find that if I don't get into the muck and mud with the animals, I can wear my jeans two or three times without washing them.  In fact, if I only wear my jeans outside and change into yoga pants when I'm in the house, they can last longer between washings.  After all, this is what our grandparents and great grandparents did.  They didn't have the luxury of tossing clothes in the washer and dryer after each wearing.  And also, the more we wash clothes, the more wear and tear on both the clothes and the appliances.

I've also started using our library a lot more this month.  It doesn't make much sense for me to purchase books I'll read once.  Despite it's small size, our county library has a great selection so I'll never run our of books to read.  Especially when it comes to fiction, I don't think I'll be buying a lot of books in the near future.  

Even when it comes to "necessities," I've found myself using up what I have or making do.  This has saved me time, money, and precious resources.  I've been using what I have in the pantry and in my linen closet.   I squeeze every last drop out of various tubes and jars.  It's amazing what you can get out of a product when you think it's empty.  Turning a bottle upside down or cutting open a tube often gives me another week's worth of use.  Substituting ingredients when I don't have exactly what the recipe calls for has also helped.  I have a lot less to recycle which means fewer trips to the recycling center and a much greener life.

This Lenten season has turned the spotlight on how I live.  I don't like the idea of my things owning or controlling me.  And I don't like the idea that so much of my time on earth is focused on acquiring and caring for "things."  So, as Thoreau said, I want to "Simplify, simplify, simplify!"


Anonymous said...

As the great philosopher Tyler Durden said, "The things you own end up owning you."

I'm with you. Literally.

Deanna said...

Good post. I'm not much of a shopper and pretty content with what I already have. Although even that is too much. Someday we'd like to move to New Orleans and live a very much scaled down life. It's time for me to get back to my decluttering project.