If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much. I would have it on its knees; miserable, greedy, and sick. - John Steinbeck (Daily Quote: John Steinbeck from The Poached Egg by Greg West; thankfully the photos are of someone else's desk and home.)
My sister-in-law and I tried on clothes yesterday. I'm a pretty traditional size and so it's easy to find stuff designed for middle-aged women, though the dressing room feels intimidating. Peel off layers to wince in harsh lighting that illuminates every wrinkle! Ugh. Quickly pull on the clothing. Whew. Covered again.
I rarely shop department stores. Doris and I spent a few hours at Nordstrom Rack. So much to see! So much to try! and soooooo many people buying. I'm amazed. Apparently people do this for fun, for diversion, for entertainment, even to alleviate boredom. How could the average wage earner afford such a thing?
My dear husband handed me a gift card Visa for the day. It's all gone, spent on 3 summery sweaters and 2 pairs of walking flip-flops. I looked around the shop at the bustle of consumers, listened in on conversations, "I think I'd like something pink for that picnic. Wonder if they have a Calvin Klein in that color." "That's a bit pricey. For a first date, I'd rather spend under $200." Etc. That's an expensive date, I'd say.
I'm proud of W, who works hard to support us and likes a good bargain. We couldn't dream of buying clothing every month or going out to eat every day. It would be awful to teeter on the edge of a financial cliff, whether by over-spending or by unforeseen disaster. I don't mind wearing "classics" like the Eddie Bauer long-sleeved T-shirts I've had for ages. Or the long black skirt I've worn to weddings, funerals, and everything between for 10 years. Or the bootcut jeans that have lasted a decade or more... staying the same-ish size helps, of course.
However, with world news and natural disasters leaving many homeless and penniless, I've been grieving over the material excesses of my life. We've given away many items in the last year. Sold some, donated some, tossed a lot. Books. Clothes. Furniture. Chotch-kees. Someone came for 4 dozen home magazines yesterday. 25 Beautiful Homes (British). Architectural Digest. Dwell. I've got a Sally-Ann pickup soon. And some of our stuff is going to Montana via friends, this weekend.
It's all too much, says decluttering expert Peter Walsh. It's exhausting putting things away, washing them, dusting and vacuuming around them. It's even tiring to have to look at it all.
I think Steinbeck's quote is correct. By burying ourselves in possessions, we're losing track of the important things. Using time to distract rather than serve. Dissipating energy to maintain rather than create community. God help us all!
Look around your home or office. What would you love to have disappear with a poof into thin air? We'd love to know!