2.22.2007

a few steps removed

I woke up this morning feeling 90% human! I seem to be mostly over the weird flu-like bug I caught. It's always nice to feel healthy, happy & human, don't you think! My recovery was just in time as I had my eye doctor appointment scheduled for today.

One thing I'm really enjoying about my move to religious life is the different approach and attitude I have towards money and purchasing things. It's like I'm a few steps removed from the consumer frenzy of American culture. I have what I need, and if it turns out I need something more I have the resources to get whatever "it" is. What I don't feel is the need to accumulate or have the next new thing.


Last month for example, I experienced this when I was figuring out what to wear to my brother's wedding. In the past, I would have spent loads of time and a bit of money figuring out just the right outfit to wear. It's not like I don't care what I look like now, but my approach is different. I wanted to look presentable, but didn't feel that need to look super snazzy which resulted in a much less stressful wardrobe decision (from my closet with one small addition from an after Christmas sale).

Today at the eye doctor, I felt a similar freedom from this new approach. I'm still covered on my City insurance plan which covers an eye exam and gives an allowance for new frames with a $15 copay. I wanted to stick to the insurance coverage with no extra charges. So when they suggested this new thing or that new gadet, I could calmly and honestly say "no thanks." When it came to picking out new frames, I knew that I wanted plastic frames (metal ones irritate my skin) within the $120 insurance allowance. That pretty much narrowed down my selected to 5 pairs of glasses which made my selection much easier! And believe it or not, I was still able to pick out some fairly snazzy frames. The whole experience reminded me of the simplicity of making menu selections when dining out in the years when I was a vegetarian.

Most likely one reason I am able to embrace this approach is that I've been on the path to simplicity for some time now. It started when I began to get serious about paying off my credit card debt. What I have always been astounded by is how much happier I am when I'm not focused on feeding into the consumer frenzy of American culture. It's counter intuitive, but oh so true in my experience.

3 comments:

Halden said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the freedom that comes from disentangling ourselves from consumerism.

And I was pleased to read in one of your earlier posts that you once lived in Portland, my hometown where I still live. It's good to know about your order, it may be a very good place for myself and some of the members of my church-community to visit for our next stillness retreat.

Thank you for your ministry and writing!

Tess said...

Your post reminded me of a recent barrage of texts and calls I had from my mobile phone supplier. It was the 18-month anniversary of the contract I took out. It seems I now have the option to get a free new phone, with many more gizmos.

My explanation that I'm happy with the phone I have (I only use it for vital calls) and have no need to get a new one caused absolute shock and disbelief.

Now I'm no saint, and my consumerism is something I want to work on (I identified with your comment about snazzy wedding clothes!) but that decision seemed a no-brainer to me. I was really taken aback by the attitude of amazement by the sales staff.

xsquared said...

Have you read "The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less" by Barry Schwartz? I think you would like it. My eyes were really opened to the overwhelming numbers of choices that need to be made each day, particularly when we shop. I used to think that I liked having lots of options, but really, life is much easier when things are narrowed down.