Anyone who has been reading these pages for long will know how cross I get about mindless consumerism. And 'stuff'. An endless ocean of miserably manufactured, 'must have' tat which keeps us all in the malls and up to our eyeballs in debt, and working all the days of our lives to pay for it.
I have never been much of a spender, having been brought up by very thrifty parents, and also because walking around shops and making decisions about buying things is like my worst nightmare.. and yet, somehow, I have effortlessly collected a house full of stuff. It's like there really is a conspiracy.
So, having spent a lot of time over the last few months contemplating, well, everything, I have come to a few tentative conclusions:
1 Our society, organised around global capitalism as it is, exploits the labour of many to benefit the few. Here in Tasmania, I am one of the few. I can buy a kettle from K-mart for $12 or a jar of orange marmalade made in Poland for $1.20. I cannot buy a jar of locally made jam for less than $4.50, and I cannot buy a locally made kettle at all.
As the parent of four brilliant, darling children, I am doing all I can to make sure they have the best chance to find meaningful and fulfilling work. Why should the brilliant, darling children of parents in the developing world not have the same chance of finding meaningful and fulfilling work just so I can have a $12 kettle? And why are the brilliant, darling children of Tasmania condemned to work at Kmart when they could be starting kettle-manufacturing businesses?
2 Our society, organised around global capitalism as it is, exploits the resources of the many to benefit the few. My river isn't being polluted by mine tailings to make a widget to put in my kettle. But I expect someone's river is. I get the kettle. They get the polluted river. I am a bit lucky aren't I?
3 I can't see any way to fix the evils of global capitalism (I am working on it..) but actually, maybe I don't have to participate in it any more. Can I live my life creatively and happily, with much more labour, and also much less guilt, in the cracks and spaces between the monolithic institutions that rule our lives? What if I just try? I can only fail, and then I'll be right back here where I already am. To paraphrase Thoreau, it is better to aim high, and fail immediately, than not to aim high at all.
4 My very first act will be to not buy stuff. In an age where we are all defined as consumers in every sphere of life, I think this might be the most subversive act of all. And also it frees me to lie in the hammock and read my book, instead of going shopping. I am also determined to work out how to avoid grocery shopping, then my life will be heaven on earth.
5 I don't quite know how I am going to work this out. As I write, my last black bra that fits is coming apart at the seams, and Posy and Rosy could both use new rash vests for swimming. I can't leave the cash economy altogether, but I can think very carefully about where my dollars go.
6 My first and biggest challenge is to use what I already have. If I were to measure my (quite modest) houseful of 'stuff' against the possessions of most other human beings through time and space, I imagine I would be up there in the 1% . I don't need more things (except a black bra and two rashies ..). I think what I need is to look at what I have with different eyes. The eyes that can see how much I have, instead of the eyes that can only see what the neighbours have, and what all the beautiful people on TV have, and what all the bloggers have in their perfect houses and gardens. What I need is to be able to wake up every morning and say, 'I have enough!'
7 I just examined my bra - with difficulty, as I am wearing it - and I am pretty sure I can mend it. A course of action that genuinely didn't occur to me until I was writing this post. Now I can put off thinking about how to acquire a new one.
8 The children are going to LOVE this:)
A Bit More Subtraction
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