Tuesday, May 20, 2008

not keeping up with the jones

Recently when I visited friends who have a newly remodeled home, I began to feel strange and it wasn’t just the off gassing of the new carpet. I thought my discomfort might be caused by a slight bit of envy. Their home was after all quite lovely with its new hard wood flooring, new wood trim, new windows, new custom made kitchen cabinets, new appliances, new, new, new…But, realizing just how unimportant having the newest and most impressive of everything really is I was confused about my discomfort. I came home and looked around my house…

We live humbly, making do with what we have or can get by with. I have an area rug under my old kitchen table that came from a freecycler. My sofa and loveseat were purchased used (and my cat child Arther has seen to it that the one corner panel of the sofa is tattered, thank you very much brat cat.) The rug in my living room came from my mother in law, as did the wall shelving unit. My used desk was given to me, having earned it, as well as several other pieces of used furniture in our home. I’ve been using the same computer since the mid 90’s, having it upgraded and replacing necessary hardware when needed rather than purchasing a new PC, our TV is a fifteen year old 19" model that doesn't need to be replaced…you get the picture.

There was a time when I had new and thought my house should look like a spread in Better Homes & Gardens. I spent so much time cleaning, coordinating and arranging to make things look exceptional that I never really enjoyed it much. I was a slave to the idea of what I thought my home should be…that came from reading too many of those magazines. ;) Oh believe me, I would still love for my rooms to look like those in magazines, but the truth is, we live in our home and on a minimalist budget and so, even with just the two of us here it’s far from the glossy pages of perfection. The bottom line is it's adequate, it’s clean and functional and the big difference now is, I truly enjoy keeping house, puttering about at this job or that. I find great satisfaction in my home, but it’s not about being obsessive about its appearance or having the newest or the best. These days it’s about how I feel and the things I enjoy while I’m in it and caring for it.

These days I would rather make what I can and purchase the rest the rest of my needed goods used whenever possible. I absolutely love making something from nothing; recycling, reducing, reusing, ya know? I honestly don’t need new and would rather conserve the earths resources and not support the industry of excess and wastefulness. And when I think about it, I know in my heart of hearts that when ones priorities are getting and having, one becomes a slave to their stuff or their need for stuff. I know people who shop every weekend, not for groceries or because they actually need anything, just because it’s become a hobby to them to come home with more useless stuff to fill their home and probably some void in their lives.

I ask myself from time to time, would I trade my life for another’s? The answer is a resounding no. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My life is my own and I am content and happy where I’m at and living exactly as I do. Priorities differ. So while they’re out shopping, spending their money and time (and bickering about it) in their quest for fulfillment I’ll be home enjoying my life, my freedom and a satisfying, comfortable relationship with my spouse. In the end I believe how we live and who we are is what matters and will define us even after we are gone.

Oh, that feeling I mentioned having at the beginning of this post... I finally realized here at the end that it wasn't envy at all, but simply ruefulness. Inconsideration for the earth and her resources has a tendency to make me feel that way.


  1. Now, this is an awesome post.

    I know completely, completely the feeling you are talking about; and I know how it feels to be sensitive about doing things simply and not participating in "the machine." We have friends whose homes are much the same as you describe - huge TVs, carpet, drywall, custom cabinets, everything new.

    Here's when I do really feel good - When I remember that this stuff simply does not appeal to me. And it honestly doesn't. Sure, there's a special on TV now and then that I would like to see on some bigger than our little 11 inch TV, but it's a small price to pay for feeling like I am doing the right thing and staying out of debt.

    So, I say, Bravo to you!

  2. I remember visiting two little elderly ladies, who's house was sparsely furnished. The pictures on their walls were from calendars, and most of their furnishings were homemade. I felt so comfortable in their home, not because of the things in it, but because of the women themselves, very gracious and genuine.

  3. Thanks so much CM. I sometimes wonder if I'm coming off as overly critical so I'm always happy to have the acknowledgment of others who resonate with my words.

  4. jan m-
    It really is about who we are, isn't it? :)


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