A conscious consumer

As a bit of a follow on from my last post (I do my spring cleaning in summer), I’ve been dwelling on the ownership of stuff and how much of an unconscious consumer I’ve become. In other words, I have some disposable income which I almost carelessly dispose of.

Now, I know that buying things is increasingly shown to have a drug-like instant hit followed by a low, but my recent actions at home have got me thinking. You see, we (yes, not just me) have been de-cluttering. It’s just as well, as we’re both hoarders rather that throwers. And so far we’ve had some success: useless stuff has gone to the dump, more useful items have been advertised or gone via eBay.

We’re fortunate that the money raised is nice to have and not essential. And that, combined with the ease with which we have managed to part with things we thought too hard to deal with – say, the pram we had for our daughter who, after a difficult time a while ago, has turned out to be our only child – has got me to thinking about buying stuff, owning stuff and, well, just stuff in our lives.

In my life I’ve been bought and bought a lot of stuff. And many think that’s fortunate and lucky and what modern life is all about, right. Right? Maybe not. You see, I’ve always felt the burden of gratitude to those who have worked hard and spent their money on me. And that burden becomes a guilt. And that guilt leads me to holding onto stuff. And basically, I’m sentimental about stuff because of its context. Of the love my mum showed when she bought be and my sister a small gift each when we started at a new school miles away from home.

So it’s really nice to move stuff on, whatever the feelings attached to it, and discover that maybe it isn’t so painful after all. But I’m not sure I have yet to move on the sentimentality that goes with things and, in particular their giving. So, when my daughter started school today, I gave her a small doll. Something she’d liked the look of a while ago on holiday and that I bought without her knowing. But, as I gave it to her, I realised I could just as well be giving her something unwanted: sentimentality about possessions.

So the time of renewal is going fairly well, but there’s still a way to go as I try to shake off Christmas 1987….

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