Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Too Much Stuff

"I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes." ~ Henry David Thoreau 
 Warning: This is NOT really a running post...And yet it is.

After a month of birthdays and Christmas and go go go, and do do do, and...buy buy buy...my family (well, that's actually I) declared January "Buy Nothing" Month. What does this entail? Well, food is fine. Necessities are fine, experiences are fine - like going to the museum, or the pool, ice skating, go for hikes etc. but no buying 'stuff' - objects - such as toys, clothes...ummmm, running shoes :) No buying 'things'. Now, I know this may do nothing for the economy, and I apologize for that, but, I have bigger fish to fry.

There's two things that bug me about the buying more stuff impulse:
A) Buying can sometimes replace 'doing'.
B) Buying always just leads to wanting more stuff.
“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.” ~ Bertrand Russell
It is easy to buy an image, assuming you have the cash - I can buy cool new running gear that will make me feel like more of a bad-ass runner. I see this kind of attitude quite often in the climbing scene: If I look the part then I am the kind of person I want to be. So you have people with the best gear, and sporting rad climbing duds, and they sit at the base of climbs or boulder problems cheering on others. Wearing the right clothes and being in the proximity of those doing amazing things does not make YOU a better person, in any sense of the word. In climbing you can be part of a posse - hanging with the rad climbers. But when you hike out at the end of the day, looking rad, have you actually done anything yourself? You can't buy doing!

Runners can get sucked into this as well. When we are injured, what's the first thing we want?: A pair of running shoes that will 'fix' us. If we find running shoes we like we want all the different colors. We want matching outfits. If we have perfectly good gear we want more gear - 'cause maybe with better gear we will get faster too! But even if we don't, at least we'll look good. Ooooo. A new watch. That's what I need. Sure, I have one that works just fine, but a new Garmin will lead me to the PR (Like I don't have to do the hard work???). But the answers are not to be found in new stuff. I've heard it said many times: When I look good I feel good and then I run better. But, perhaps there is a cause and effect problem here. And let's be honest - the running population, demographically speaking, is quite well off. Most stats show the average income is well over $100,000 a year (RW: $113.00. RUSA, $75.000). So. It's not really surprising that runners buy a lot of stuff. And of course businesses love us for that. Still...I'd rather run than work more.

And then there's blogs - Which may be a complete waste of time - but those that give away STUFF have more people reading them. The content seems to be less important, and bloggers are always trying to generate more traffic via stuff giveaways. Note: I'm giving away a 70% off Hoka code on Thursday. Follow and and you're in ;) Bwahahahah. I'm not advertising this though, except in very limited circles. Why? Because I don't want to 'collect' readers. I want readers who want to read what I have to say and will hopefully comment and take part in the conversation. Anyone coming here just in the hope of getting more crap, well, that would make me sad.

Perhaps I'm wrong on this - but it seems some of us buy things in order to mask a lack of doing things. I don't think I (nor my husband) do this, and in fact I do not have the resources to do this, but my point is more for my daughter's sake. No buying month forces us to do more and buy less. As a parent the buying can be easier than the doing.

And then there is the always wanting more problem. Buying is like sugar - Eating sugar makes you/your body want more sugar. It's a vicious circle of cause and effect. Likewise, buying seems to feed the buying appetite - the need. But need and want are often very different things.

So this month we have been DOING not BUYING. And at almost half way through the month, we're doing pretty well and not actually missing it at all. Based on my deep belief that habits guide us in so many crucially important ways, I hope that this might start us on the path (especially my daughter!) to a buying less habit and a doing more habit.

I was at the Olympic Training Center this past weekend for a conference. When I'm away for a few days I usually try to bring something small home for my daughter. So I went the the OTC shop intent on finding something cool. But nothing really tickled my fancy and so I left empty handed. And when I got home, as lots of hugs and kisses were bestowed upon me from the dog and kid, I said to my daughter, "I don't have anything for you." And she said, "That's fine. I'm glad you're home." Maybe, just maybe, it's working :)

And how much more time would we have available to run, pursue our passions and enjoy the world and people around us if not for this silly obsession with acquiring more and more stuff...
“Every increased possession loads us with new weariness.” ~ John Ruskin
Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” - See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/08/11/give-liberty-give-debt/#sthash.UvjmCsKb.dpuf
Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” - See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/08/11/give-liberty-give-debt/#sthash.UvjmCsKb.dpuf
Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” - See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/08/11/give-liberty-give-debt/#sthash.UvjmCsKb.dpuf
Thoreau’s Walden: “I say beware of all enterprises that require new clothes and not a new wearer of the clothes.” - See more at: http://momastery.com/blog/2014/08/11/give-liberty-give-debt/#sthash.UvjmCsKb.dpuf

6 comments:

  1. Well said.
    I kept thinking last year, as my list of wants was small, that what I really wanted was experiences. Money can only buy experiences to a certain extent. Doing things, rather than having things, is more desirable. Just like you said, buying only makes you want to buy more... and so I sit here reading the email that my order of books has shipped. Well, that's nice, but reading those books isn't going to get me where I want to be, it might help me, but it's not what I need.
    Interesting concept in this crazy world in which we live.

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  2. My wife needs a 'buy nothing' period for the rest of her life. Really. She was about to buy more holiday cards, till I pointed out that at a couple dozen Christmas cards per year, plus a few birthday or event cards here and there, we have in our basement enough for the next decade. Maybe two decades if we're careful. I'm pretty sure there are yet more boxes of cards hidden away. It is routine for her to be so far ahead on presents that she forgets where she has hidden them. Her Christmas shopping for 2015 is done. Unless she sees something else she likes better. Me? I have to be told to replace shoes I like because they're falling to pieces.I have enough running and bike tech shirts to last the rest of my life. Maybe not bike shorts, they take a bit of abuse, and along with running shorts need to be changed for the same reason as diapers, though hopefully not as often.
    Yes, I feel better now, why do you ask?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't buy shoes when injured....I swim or bike instead and have been wearing the same workout clothes for YEARS! (I don't care what I look like, nor does anyone else when I am swimming, cycling, running, lifting, etc.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I must confess, I wanted shoes to fix me 30 years ago. I know that shoes, shorts, whatever, are not the answer. And I really don't care what I'm wearing for a run or a race now. I just want to run. AND I just want to keep on running.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Perfectly said!!! We could all benefit from spending less and living more!

    ReplyDelete

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