Last Wednesday, Dorothy and I took a quick trip to a nearby enormous craft store in search of cookie cutters. We have plans for crafts to give as gifts and so there we were.
I do not shop very much. I used to shop a lot or at least window-shop. After necessity and then a bit of self-realization kicked in, I stopped visiting stores. I might go to my local grocery a couple times a week, but that is my extravagance.
So in one of these superstores, I feel overwhelmed. There are so many choices and, feeling price-conscious, I want the best deal and I also want the bang for my buck and by the way I have a coupon and are these seven the only kind you have? Also, I think we need those there because that seems like a good price and we don't have any. And maybe we ought to get these too.
I really only shop when I have something specific in mind. Because I have asked her, Dorothy even knows to chant: just get what we need. Just get what need. She's the little angel on my shoulder singing a little Mick Jagger in my ear. Sometimes, when a little plastic doodad necklace with the latest holiday emblems makes its way into her little paws, I sing to her too.
We left the store with the cookie cutters and I, at least, carried the sense of being robbed. These cookie cutters have a specific and timely purpose that have nothing to do with baking and probably won't be needed next year. Then they will be put away for 345 or so days or maybe forever.
I realized, I do not feel good spending money on items we hardly need and might be able to find elsewhere second-hand. Already I thought of two places to go: my stepmother and craigslist. I am lucky; my step-mother makes craigslist almost unnecessary. She is an efficient and organized person who has a place for just about everything and what she has bought throughout the years she takes care of. She is not a woman who will need to buy something twice. She shared her cookie cutters and now the big round plastic box holding approximately two dozen styles of holiday cookie cutters are in the front seat of my car, in the plastic bag, nestled next to the receipt, ready to be returned.
They are cookie cutters. They cost $15 and change. Why the fuss?
The fuss is we live carefully. The fuss is we have limited space and I have no interest in needing more space to hold more stuff. The fuss is not wanting to raise our daughter in anymore of a disposable world than she already sees. The fuss is these cookie cutters feel like the soft rumbling of a tsunami that seems to wait at the doorstep, the threat of things and wasted money and not enough time, room, or peace.
Reading those words, I think, man, I do NOT sound like a good time. But what to do? I've been exhausted and wrung out by the desire for more. I've made so many poor choices based on superficial longing. I've felt less-than because of the little I have, even while I'm surrounded by things. I'm DONE. Not fun, just done.
This all feels a little preachy. I've felt a strange surliness the past two days, the after-effects of the holiday I suppose. Even good holidays or maybe especially good holidays have that effect. I want to be clear, I'm no monk. I certainly have longings for tangible creations I do not have. Perhaps that's why I'm writing this- to help shake the fugue that's come on in the last couple days as we tentatively explore the idea of home-buying. With that in mind and Christmas in the foreground, a perfect storm of want-versus-need looms.
Whatever the impetus, as I haul my bag of cookie cutters back to the store, I lighten up. Whether the amount of stuff we have is a blessing or a curse, it's always a choice. I like feeling I choose it and not the other way around. That's all I really want, not to throw out all my stuff or yours. I want to feel in charge of my own feelings and not thrown around the room by that sense of ever-available lack.
I still have longings. I have one and it is bottomless and it is most annoying precisely at moments like these when my soap-box is out and I've made myself comfortable on top of it. Whenever I might chastise anyone (hello husband and daughter!) about accumulation they can always point to this: books. I would throw all my money at them if I could and there are so many I could part with and yet I do not. I suspect (or maybe I just hope) that's true of a lot of us. No matter how much we shake, there's still that one place we will always overfill. Lots and lots and lots of books, books piled high around the room. We watched a movie recently with that very room, crammed floor to ceiling with books, a character's jumbled study and I thought, how lovely. So preach I might, but there are pitfalls I walk gladly into all the time.
That's a little encouraging though. Maybe there's still some good-times-girl in there yet.
Take good care.