Don’t worry; I’m not going to talk about the excess stores that make me groan when doing-up my pants after three weeks of festive eating. I’m going to talk about the stores that make me groan when cleaning my house after 14 years of ordinary adult living–and shopping.
Actually, it was at one such ‘groan moment’ that I first got the idea to do this challenge.
November 29th, 2013 (Buy Nothing Day). I was playing Tetris with the puzzles in the toy box and grumbling to myself about “too much stuff” when it suddenly occurred to me, “if you want less stuff, you have to stop buying stuff.” Duh. But seriously, this was an epiphany. And, being Buy Nothing Day, I immediately thought, why not a buy nothing year?
Like food, to a certain extent, we do need stuff. I know there are people who live 100% self-sufficient lives–which is cool–but that’s not my goal (yet). Eventually, I will return to buying stuff, hopefully less stuff, and, hopefully, in the process of buying nothing, my house will experience some weight loss.
When fasting, the body converts fat stores into energy once the usual fuel (from recently consumed food) is gone. Converting these stores is harder for the body and takes more time, hence, we feel hungry. Our impatient, lazy bodies are telling us to please just eat, and, on top of that, when we don’t eat, we miss out on an intensely pleasurable experience! No wonder fasting is hard.
This is why I liken our project to a fast. My house is full of excess stores: light-bulbs, batteries, tape, string, craft supplies, clothes (that I don’t wear), shoes (that hurt my feet), toys (that aren’t played with), and blank Christmas cards (that I’ll never write) — so much stuff that finding what I need when I need it is … well, hard. And, it takes time.
Often, it’s easier to buy a new bulb than to find the one working bulb among those “awaiting proper disposal.” Ditto the batteries. And the glue sticks. Maybe I’m just disorganized. At any rate, a consumer fast will force me to use up those stores no matter how hard it is and how much extra time it takes.
And then there’s the “pleasure of consuming.” While it may curb my appetite, no amount of fasting will ever take away the pleasure I get from eating food (not that I’ve tried and nor would I want it to). I’m not sure if a consumer fast will remove the pleasure I get from sporting a new sweater, dining on a less-worn tablecloth, or dressing my son in new–supposedly warmer and definitely cuter–shoes.
As I turn to the excess stores of my house, will I cling to my stuff in fervent desperation, or will I learn to let go? Will I become more generous? Selfish? Anxious? Free?
Will my hunger for new and accessible things remain, grow, or dissipate? What will this hunger feel like? And, perhaps most importantly, (like in a spiritual food fast), when I resist satisfying my hunger in easy and obvious ways, will I learn to be satisfied in other ways? Will I question the real source of my hunger?
I’m looking forward to finding out.