Monday, January 28, 2008

A Year Without Shopping

This started as a way to deal with the cost of Avonex, once I've fallen into the Medicare Abyss, but it's turned into a much more interesting - and potentially richer - process.

I decided to stop buying stuff, stuff like shoes (I ask you, how many pairs of black shoes does someone who walks barefoot in the house and doesn't go out much really 'need'?), or ceramic bowls, or computer games, or even books. We have one of the best library systems in the country here in Multnomah County, OR. If I want to read something, I can go online, put in my request, and it ends up waiting for me at the local branch of the library. We have more ceramic bowls (and glass bowls and stainless steels bowls and wood bowls) than any two people can use in a month. Why add anything more to our collection? My closets are stuffed with blouses and coats, jackets and slacks (and, of course, shoes). I have more sweaters, tunics, turtlenecks and other assorted tops than I care to count. Do I really need another purple one?

No way. I may want another purple blahblahblah, but I sure as hell don't need another purple blahblahblah.

And therein lies the real richness and learning opportunity in this self-imposed denial of retail adventure. Whenever I find myself thinking "Boy, I really need a purple blahblahblah" (which happens, sadly, a lot more frequently than I'd wish) I ask myself "Do I really need that purple thing, or do I want that purple thing? And if I want that purple thing, what is it I really want?"

Believe me, that last question isn't an easy one to answer. Often, I can't figure it out, and have to put it away. But once in a while, I'll realize what I really want is my health, or my work, or to be fifteen pounds thinner or fifteen years younger - none of which happens if I buy a purple blahblahblah (hell, none of which will happen again, at least in this lifetime). So instead of buying something, I spend a little time thinking about the real thing I'm missing, not finding answers, but learning in the process.

We find mindfulness wherever we can, if we try.

3 comments:

mdmhvonpa said...

We have decided to try to be a bit more budget conscientious this year. Cost of heating, transportation, insurance, housing and my supplements have gone up ... unmatched by income. A bit tighter this year, it is. And the buffer we established through thrifty savings have not decreased, but cover less now. OUCH!

LISA EMRICH said...

Libbi,
One of my first thoughts is...so maybe we can blame the 'recession' on the Medicare donut-hole. Perhaps folks aren't out there spending there money as much on retail good because they're budgeting to cover MS meds. Hmmm...that's a thought.
Lisa

Libbi said...

Yeah, let's blame it all on the gimps, right? ;-)

This whole process is turning out to be so much more about mindfulness than saving money (although the latter is definitely a Good Thing).