I like the definition that says reduce means to change to a simpler form. That goes much deeper than trying to curb my inner want-monster.
There used to be a time when I didn’t buy anything because there wasn’t any money to buy anything. It was exciting at first when the Mister and I started making the kind of money where we could buy books and cds but that was a while ago. Books and cds turned into houses and mini vans and three children and the money seems to be flowing through our fingers like water. Don’t get me wrong, ed we aren’t in debt or anything. We are still doing well and having money is nice (no lie) and being able to buy yourself things when you want and/or need them is even nicer.
So. Many. Things.
I currently have more books than I could ever read, tooth and yes, order they bring me a large amount of joy just looking at them – they also take up a lot of space. The more you own the more time you spend taking care of the things you own. Or, as Chuck Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club: “The things you own end up owning you.”
The other night I had a dream that we had to move the next day and I hadn’t started packing yet. In the dream I looked around my home and sat down and wept – the thought of having to pack everything up was overwhelming.
I find owning a lot of stuff overwhelming.
Many years ago I read a book called The Simple Living Guide. I read it a number of times and it really spoke to me. I still have it although it is probably past time to pass it along (however, it’s really long which is rather funny because how many pages does it take to tell you how to simplify your life?) Then I got on a simplicity reading streak: Voluntary Simplicity by Duane Elgin, Affluenza which was based on a PBS special, The Circle of Simplicity by Cecile Andrews. All of those books shaped how I viewed the world. There was a time when I lived in a small apartment and all I had in my living room was a TV/VCR combo (no cable) and a chair I bought at Value Village for $19 – and I didn’t really feel like I needed more stuff. (I still have that chair, it’s a great chair.)
Sadly, along the way I lost that part of myself. It probably happened somewhere between a decent pay cheque and sleepless nights nursing babies.
But I really want to get back to that place again, even if I’m unsure of where to start.
Today is the day after American Thanksgiving – also known as Black Friday. Back when I wanted to be on the staff of AdBusters magazine I called it Buy Nothing Day. I used to religiously observe Buy Nothing Day but now I don’t think about it that much. Today I went out and bought stuff to treat lice, but I probably would have bought other things too if I felt the need, or desire. The one thing I am doing today to get back to that sense of simplicity is unsubscribing from everything that goes into my inbox. All of it just wants me to buy stuff anyway and it is all a distraction from being the person I want to be. I also deleted a bunch of apps from my phone – which will help reduce the noise out there.
It’s small, but it’s a start.
Reduce. Reduce. Reduce.
That is the first suggestion in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra.