Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Things I Need

I used to think often of the things I "needed" - things like dishes and linens and furniture and accessories. In trying to quiet my brain and simplify my life I've attempted to recognize the difference between want and need and then exorcise as many of the wants from my life as possible. It's a continuous battle at the moment. I hope someday it won't even be a footnote to my life.

Now I think of the things I need in more meaningful ways:
  • I need my loved ones to be okay
  • I need enough money for food and shelter and medical expenses and emergencies and the future
  • I need to be content with how I spend what time I have on this earth
  • I need to accept myself as I am - many flaws and all - and accept those I choose to keep in my life 
  • I need to find joy whenever I can to combat those less than joyful moments
And I have come to recognize the needs which have - and continue to - influenced my wants:
  • I need control over my environment - and I exercise this control by ordering my space exactly as I want it ordered
  • I need to feel safe - so I create a "nest" in my environment and surround myself with all my things
  • I need "nice" things - because I'm at the point in my life where I feel like I've earned the right, I can afford them, and I like them so why should I accept anything less
  • I need to stress about the possibility of acquiring things or about the things I have acquired - when I have too much time on my mind it needs to focus on something after all
  • I need the rush - of purchasing something new, waiting for that something new to arrive, unwrapping that something new, adding that something new to my collection of stuff
Because I know that I have no real control over my environment. Disasters happen. Time happens. Control is just an illusion. As is feeling safe because I have stuff. Stuff (for the most part) doesn't keep me safe - it may make me comfortable, or keep me warm and dry - but only a handful of my possessions will actually keep me safe in an emergency situation.

And while it's not wrong to like nice things, I have come to realize that it's not about what I do and don't deserve or have earned the right to. My things are not trophies or markers of my successes. They are there to be functional, to serve a purpose. And while quality is important, as is the beauty of an object, just because something is nice doesn't mean I need to aquire it.

I have also come to terms with the fact that I'm a worrier. If I wasn't stressing about something I'd likely be stressing about something else. I don't know that this aspect of my personality will ever change. But I am trying to adopt that mantra about not fretting about the little things. And stuff is definitely one of the least important things in my life. It doesn't last forever. I can't take it with me. It doesn't love me back. And I'll likely fall out of love with it before it falls apart.

In fact, I dented my dresser the other day while putting something away. In the past it would have bothered me endlessly, been a visual reminder of its now imperfect state. It would prompt me to go seeking a replacement. Even though it's just a dent. Even though it's still a lovely, solid wood, quality dresser. Even though it still functions. For the very first time I can accept the flaw in the object. I can accept my responsibility in damaging it. I can be okay with it as is and not stress over what happened to it. I think that's progress.

When I feel that "need" for the rush building, I read a blog or book, listen to a podcast, watch a documentary to remind myself that the rush is only temporary, that even if I were to succumb to a purchase that glorious feeling would only be fleeting.

And I remind myself of the things I actually need and how buying the things I don't could prevent me from having some of the things I do.

Ack! Change definitely requires a lot of work. But "they" always say that nothing is easy, and I have to say that they're right. But I think the end result will be worth it.

To be continued...

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