How Not To Buy Things
I am at a point in my life where I am trying to downsize. I have spent many decades accumulating “things” (which sounds better than “junk”). There is only one word to describe this stuff. Detritus.
(Okay, there are lots of words to describe this stuff …. even “stuff”).
Then one day you cross some threshold and you realize you’re never going to need that factory AM/FM radio you had replaced with a Pioneer AM/FM/Cassette deck in your 1984 Mustang (which you haven’t owned in at least 20 years). You’re never going to need that package of two replacement belts for a 1990s vintage Kenmore vacuum cleaner (which has been in a landfill for at least a decade). You’re never going to need that tub full of old USB, printer, and power cables, none of which fit any modern electronic device. You’re never going to need that ice-maker connection kit that came with a refrigerator you bought when you rented your first duplex in the mid 90’s.
No, all of this stuff is less than useless. It is taking up valuable space. It prevents you from finding things you are actually looking for. (Oh, why oh why does the most useless junk float to the top of any junk drawer?) And, worse still, all this stuff anchors you to shoals that you will never escape from as long as your hull is covered with these insidious barnacles.
So, I have reached that point in my life where I have no trouble throwing these things away. (Okay, I have a little trouble throwing them away … but I am getting over those hesitations more and more every day.)
But the other side of that coin is that, in order to empty out those junk drawers, mysterious boxes in the attic, and groaning shelves in the garage, you must stop adding new stuff to the pile! This part is much harder than getting rid of things that are unarguably useless. Our entire society is based upon us being good and faithful consumers. Merchants prey upon our weakness by making things in stores look so inviting. They are the painted ladies down by the docks when the ships put down anchor. (I play the part of a hapless, gullible sailor in that metaphor.)
But I am getting better at resisting the come-hither gesticulations of the bright, attractive, products upon the well-lit and comely shelves at the stores I frequent.
Tonight, I resisted the urge to buy the following:
- A softbound version of William Faulkner’s work of staggering genius “The Sound and the Fury”. (The $20 price tag made me start and bolt like a frightened deer.)
- A Criterion DVD of “The In-Laws” with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. (The $26 price tag had me staggering like a drunkard around the video section of Barnes & Noble while rending my clothing.)
- A Criterian DVD of Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” with Kris Kristofferson. (The $49.99 price tag had me clutching at my heart and making gurgling noises like a man who had just finished a bacon fat, lard, and Spam salad.)
- A Panasonic beard trimmer. (The $100 price tag had me sobbing like a child whose ice cream had just fallen off the cone and plopped on the ground where it was promptly eaten by the dog. Besides, my old one works just fine … except that the battery only lasts for about three and a half minutes, so I have to trim fast. This can be a challenge while staring bleary-eyed at the mirror having just woken up in the morning.)
So, I can’t decide if I am trying to minimize and simplify my life . . . or if I’m just a cheap bastard.
I prefer to think of myself as a shrewd consumer.