Wednesday, 17 March 2021

730 things — Day 6 of 365

 In sorting out my surplus belongings and noting the emotional silt that stirs up in the pond of my being, I realise that I am operating under two quite separate belief systems that don't harmonise with each other whatsoever. One has developed from my own thinking and the other I inherited.

My own belief system says that life is flow — death is static (that's a Taoist principle). I believe in the provision of grace, and in sharing and de-monetising and keeping the goods and benefits of this life moving so everyone gets a turn. I believe our mistakes are the way we learn and grow. I believe that amounts of money are only numbers and don't matter very much. As a consequence, I have developed an easy-come-easy-go approach to belongings, seeing payments for possessions more as rental than purchase. I pay to wear this for a while, and when it no longer feels right I pass it on — preferably still in tip-top condition so someone else can be pleased to have it, or else so worn out it must be thrown away.

But then I see that I have a quite different belief system open and running, that came from my mother and has been reinforced by the church and by various mentors and associates: that frugality is a most prized virtue, that one should get a purchase right and hang onto it forever, that one should be stable in every respect so that clothes go on fitting and last and last and last. 

The result of this is that my practice, of acquiring and chucking so at any given time I travel light but a lot of stuff passes through my life, is a result of my developed belief system but arouses deep shame in me because of the one I inherited. 

I have no conclusions in terms of life lessons to draw from this. I just notice it and think, "Oh, right. What to do about that, then? No idea."

And today I am moving on a floral t-shirt and a pair of blue trousers. Why? Because the blue is too insistent for me and annoys my eye every time I wear them, and the t-shirt has a little placket with buttons that weight it so it sags on my habitually concave chest (round-shouldered — a chronic huncher and stooper).

What am I like. Oh, dear. Never mind. Off they go.

I am learning more from this process than I either expected or wanted.


Anonymous said...

Hello Pen. I have similar dilemmas. When I buy something in the first place I give it a great deal of thought so it will be a forever purchase. Sometimes it is - usually the plain, linen, comfortable variety and sometimes it just sits there making me feel guilty that I got it wrong. I admire the monks simple robes, but also beautiful embellished saris and folk embroideries. I love plain, simple things because they are easy and restful, but I also love colour! I hate my vanity with such things and yet I still think on it all.
I tell myself that it's all relative. No one in my family has gone without because of a clothes purchase - they have been considered and afforded, and I do pass on to others what I no longer wear. But then I think I could have given the money to those who don't have the luxury of such mistakes in the first place...
Hmm, I will continue to read with interest to see if you come to any conclusions. Yours confusedly, Deb x

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Deb — waving!

The provisional resting place I have reached over this conundrum, is I have to accept that I will make mistakes. Even though I do my best, I will make mistakes.

Bernard used to say to me, if I said I hated wasting food so I'd go on eating even if I didn't want it, rather than throw it out, that I WAS throwing it out — I was just using my own body as the dustbin.

In the same way, I have concluded that, while I will continue to do my best and think carefully and try to take all the factors into account and make the right choices, if I make a mistake the best thing to do is move on from it.

So if I buy the wrong thing, I put it right as best I can by passing it on (Freegle or charity shop) straight away. That way I have only wasted the money. To waste the money AND clutter up my life by hanging on to a bad purchase is two mistakes. The money's wasted anyhow, and it's no less wasted if I keep the item. In fact, arguably it's less wasteful if SOMEBODY gets to use the thing even if it isn't me.

That's the place I've reached with this so far. x

Rapunzel said...

Maybe the money isn't wasted. Maybe it's invested in the business/shop/person from whom you bought the item.

Pen Wilcock said...

Yes! That's where I pin my hopes. Especially since Brexit in the UK, and since people have suffered so much financially because of the pandemic, as well as for the sake of conserving ecological resources, I try to buy things secondhand from private sellers, and from British firms if I get something new (when reduced in the sales). So I haven't tried too hard to be careful in the course of this last year. Plus it creates a bit of joy and pleasure — something to look forward to in these days when one is so restricted.
Lovely to hear from you! xx