Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Simple living vs. consumerism

In Finding Joy, there's a story about a New Yorker cartoon portraying a man running toward the end of the rainbow only to see a pot of baked beans there. The author mentions whenever she thinks of striving for something "more" she reminds herself it's time to stop and remember there's beauty in the ordinary and it's right here!

She goes on to tell of visiting an old dear friend whom she hadn't seen in a while. 
"His sense of graciousness and ritual was as I remembered. I had mentioned that I wanted only fruit and tea for breakfast, and I arrived to a neatly set table with an orange and apple on a plate beside a knife, a mug and a newspaper on the same green tablecloth I had sat at twenty-five years before. I also saw the same bookshelves, the same tables, the same dishes and the same couch as before. In a passing moment, a painful image flashed through my mind of the thousands of dollars I had spent on such items over the years and how little they mattered. How peaceful it was to be with him in this uncluttered home. I hold that image in my mind as I struggle to detach from wanting more things."

She describes me in describing a time in her life where she went through a period of buying lots of new and pretty and useful things in a compulsive way. 
"I would buy something and then after I had enjoyed it for a little while, I would start thinking about the next thing I would buy." 
We had the money (although at one time a lot of it was regretfully bought with credit)... and looking back, the point isn't to be able to save the money and have it to spend later, but to be able to be generous with those in need. What the author did to break this cycle was to intentionally look around her and acknowledge that what she had was beautiful, paid for and whatever other quality it had. 
"Again, and again I need to quell my restless mind and remind myself, This is enough. What I really seek is more love, more peace and more free time."

I still struggle with consumerism.
the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable; also : a preoccupation with and an inclination toward the buying of consumer goods.  ~Merriam-Webster dictionary
I no longer have a desire to buy a lot of stuff I don't need. I used to shop for entertainment... which led to buying things... things we didn't need. Oh sure, I enjoyed them when I got them home and I did use them but thinking about it now... how many gorgeous coffee cups do I really "need"? I can only use one at a time. And even when I have guests, are they there to enjoy a pretty coffee cup or my company?

Shopping is no longer a favorite pastime for me. I still enjoy thrift shopping and grocery shopping most of the time... but it's a different kind of enjoyment. I enjoy cooking and baking and we live within a budget... so it's a challenge to me to shop for good food within a budget. I love the thrill of finding something in a thrift store or garage sale I've been "needing" and paying few dollars for it. When we sold everything in preparation for our RV lifestyle, we knew we'd most likely buy another house eventually and we knew we'd furnish it with thrift store and garage sale finds that we love. And it's something that both David and I enjoy doing. Scouring thrift stores is a whole lot more fun to us than walking into a furniture store and buying a whole new living room "set". And yes, we've done that before. Although if you know me it wasn't a "matching set". =)

When it comes to buying gifts for others... I'd much rather not give anything if I cannot find something I know they need, would love and/or use. Long ago, we gave up the notion to give something just to give something or out of obligation or guilt. If we cannot find that "something" we try to find other ways to make someone feel special and loved (homemade goodies, a meal out or a donation to a charity that is meaningful to the recipient). But at times I still struggle... I don't want anyone to feel like we don't love them and some people connect value with gift giving and receiving. 

Shopping and buying are in the forefront for me right now because of the season. We haven't done a whole lot of shopping yet. We have bought a few gifts online and I'm making some gifts as I do every year.  It's not that I'm in a "scrooge mood"... God has just been revealing to me over the past few years but a lot this past year about how blessed we are... as is! It all goes along with my "being in the moment" and being grateful for what we do have and we have an abundance! 

to be continued...


  1. I shop for entertainment ... seriously sometimes I do but I can start shopping.. and end with nothing in my cart... I love things but I don't love to pay the money if that makes any sense. LOL

    I do have to go out today to get an item it is very much a need because I am sick of wet toilet paper. But it has taken me 5 months to finally purchase it. I keep re-thinking it.

    I loved reading this today.

  2. Consumerism and the environment also hits my heart. We are such a nation of waste anymore. Seems the older I get, I think of all that credit card loss to everything I'm giving away or reselling now. I'm so much more picky when and if I purchase something. It's so freeing to me to live much less to think about. But I think I'll always be a food hoarder :O)

    Gifts....been a tough one this year as my art studio sold off or in cooking up some goodies this year.
    I dislike when you ask a family member for an idea and they say, oh just get us gift cards...what, why don't I just write you a check or give you cash then we can trade off Christmas day...grrrrrrr what's the point. I'd much rather buy a funny white elephant, sit around and eat great food, play games and laugh followed by a huge birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus. Second love is to take blankets and coats to a shelter or pick a name and deliver to the group home, etc.

    Kuddos to thrift store decorating!!! You can make it adorable with your talents for sure! Nice write up...lots of love in that one!

    1. I love white elephant exchanges! Such fun! And eating great food is pretty high on my list too!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.