Striving to find contentment.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 quest #1: Possessions

Coming off of Christmas and a year in which I got married, I've been thinking a lot about possessions and consumerism. Not that I don't appreciate the gifts that were given to me, as some of those have been enormously useful in my life and in my other quests. But after reading some blogs about living with less, and inspired by a friend from long ago, I decided that my life is too dominated by material things.

To be entirely truthful, the idea of living with an extremely limited number of possessions scares me quite a bit. Which, in itself, is probably the clearest indication that I am too defined by what I own. But in all honesty, this will not be an exercise in asceticism. I know there are people out there doing this better and more seriously than I am. But that seems unsustainable for me right now, and therefore likely to fail.

Instead, I plan on taking smaller steps, starting with resolving to remove at least one thing from my house every day. At first, this is likely to be the sort of low-hanging fruit that everyone who owns a house seems to accumulate - old electronics stored in closets, clothing that no longer fits, broken things moved into the basement and then never fixed. As the year goes on, I expect the picking to get tougher. But that's part of the point.

Why not get rid of everything at once? First off, because I am not that ambitious. To go through my entire house would take quite a while, and my inherent lazy tendencies are in opposition to that. But also, because this forces me to think more carefully about each object I come across, and whether it really deserves a place in my life. Hopefully this allows me to be more thoughtful and more serious about this project, with the goal of not only cleaning out my house but of changing my thinking about consuming.

Things purged so far:

1/2: Two trash bags full of clothes and sweaters, plus three pairs of shoes, donated to Goodwill.

1/3: Two Amy Tan books, put in a box for future donation to the library.

1/4: "The World of the Cell" introductory biology textbook from 1996. Very outdated and probably not useful for anyone, so put out with the recycling.

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