Apr 24, 2006

Confession before Beatification

In beginning the Compact I assumed that I’d find some release from materialism. I got a bit ... high on things at times, usually bikes and jackets. Cleaning out my apartment, calm-pacting, I felt like I was purging some of those societally constructed emotions.

But I’m starting to see a new materialism in myself: I’m a bit possessive over my stuff. The best example is a mishap with my cycling jacket. My best friend was wearing it and within 10 minutes, managed to jam both of the zippers on the pockets, one of which broke. I was seriously (and publicly) mad about this. I was thinking about replacing that jacket and groaning to myself about the hours that I would spend finding a good substitute. The jacket’s 2 years old, my friend pointed out, and it was only the zippers on the pockets. But I was pissed.

Another friend thought it was out of character for me to get so bent out of shape over a thing, but it’s not just the jacket. I’m hesitant to loan out some of my things. Especially if they were selected to because of their ergonomic prowess (vacuum cleaner, office chair). So far I’ve not refused anyone, but have cycled through the steps that replacing the item would require: internet/Goodwill search, borrow a car, coordinate time, drop cash, etc. It’s a panicky reaction, and a very interesting result of my commitment. I hope it’s a phase.


Unknown said...

I don't know if it's entirely a bad thing. Most people don't care for things like they used to. I wouldn't worry over it. Maybe you could lend things with the stipulation if it's broken, the borrower must replace it. If they can't afford to replace it, maybe they shouldn't borrow it.

kanda said...

I agree that many people don't care for things the way they should. Today people view things as easily replacable or due for an upgrade anyway. Most of the time when I loan something out it comes back (IF it comes back at all...)damaged in some way. Sure, it may be just "cosmetic" damage in the eyes of the borrower, but I do take pride in keeping my things nice and usable for a long time. There are people I don't loan to anymore. Don't be afraid to exclude people who are irresponsible or unconscientious from your loaning list.

Ronica said...

Hey, how about just replacing the zippers? Most dry cleaners have alterations people if you don't sew yourself (it's not that hard, though, really.)

Then you don't have to look for another whole jacket and waste this one that's perfectly good except for the zippers, right?

Helena said...

I'm writing an article for Yoga Journal about voluntary simplicity and buying less. I'd love to interview one of the Compact bloggers and/or organizers. My email is helena.echlin@gmail.com
Looking forward to hearing from you.

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Anonymous said...

Good materialism is a balance, no? On one hand, you don't want to be so attached to a material object that it would trump human relationships. On the other hand, that detachment should not be based on a thoughtless throw away and replace culture that pays no attention to the destructive impact of boundless consumption.

Julie in the garden said...

Becoming overly possessive may be a reaction to your new reduced stuff statis. Are you accustomed to having several spare jackets and now you only have one? No wonder you are anxious about it! As you get used to less stuff you will probably not loan things you cannot afford to lose. You will become more skillful at taking good care of your stuff without offending your friends and your anxiety over your stuff will subside. Either that or you will retreat into hermitage and begin to hoard vacuum cleaners and office chairs!

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Anonymous said...

Now that you've placed restrictions on how you acquire things, replacing them takes much more thought and effort than it used to. It's no wonder you have more anxiety about having to replace things.

I agree with Kanda and others that you have a right to not to loan out certain things or to loan them out with conditions. However, I do not agree with Bohemianmama's comment "If they can't afford to replace it, maybe they shouldn't borrow it."

Often people borrow things precisely because they can't afford to buy one themselves at the moment. And they may be just as responsible as you are!

Good luck in your journey!

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I'm a member of an internet community called Downsizer.net and I am considering suggesting a scheme like the Compact one for the next "Downsizer Challenge" - a concept which in the past has included things like "Reduce your electricity usage", "Give up supermarkets for a week" and "Have an empty bin (trash can) by the end of the week".

Thanks for the inspiration :)

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Jayne Dough said...

What bothers me about this story is that your friend borrowed your belonging, damaged it, and responds with, "Why do you care? It's 2 years old!" When I damage property my response is, "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry, how can I make this right?"

You've now been warned... this friend is not respectful of things, and hopefully that will factor into decisions about whether or not to lend to him/her in the future.

Anonymous said...

Someone in my family has a saying that I try to live by. "You should never loan anything to someone that you wouldn't give them for the asking." If you never expect to get back anything that you loan out you will never have to be pissed at your friends if they accidently mess your stuff up, or can't pay you back, etc. Basicly you should either be less attatched to your crap or don't loan it out. I prefer being less attatched, but that's just me.

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