My book buying ban begins Saturday! I’m so excited! I’m so ready! I bought my last book at Powell’s in Portland on the recommendation of Vanessa, a sweet girl I met in the bookstore (who actually lived in Austin for a time – the world is so small!).
I’ve also been musing on doing a bigger ban – a stuff buying ban. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and talking about it a lot, and I’m leaning toward doing it in some fashion.
Heidi Dobbs (here she is on the Twitters), with whom we stayed in Eureka, was kind enough to mull my various bans over with me. She mentioned that she’s been doing a ban of sorts – instead of going out to buy something, she’ll see if she can make it. Instead of giving presents to her friends, she’ll give experiences – like lunch and a movie instead of a knick-knack. Spending time with a friend instead of giving a gift that might all-too-often go into the clutter pile.
And I’m really taken by that idea.
Most of the money I spend isn’t money spent on myself. Gift giving and receiving is my primary love language; I buy things for my friends and family on a regular basis. But what if, instead, I gave experiences? Time spent together doing mutually enjoyable things? That would be a gift well-loved and not easily forgotten.
As for myself, I’m not a particularly crafty person, so making things I want or need isn’t practical for me. But I really like the idea of re-purposing things I already have in creative ways to get new and interestingly different use out of them.
I’m also particularly fond of learning to wait it out – instead of realizing I want something and just getting it, learning to wait a day or a week or even a month and see if I still want it. And if so, getting it then.
The phrase I’ve been looking for is conscious consumer.
Instead of blindly spending money by default or by reflex or out of habit, I want to appreciate what I’m buying. If I’m forking over my monies for something, I want it to be something I will love and be happy about for a long time to come – not just a few weeks, but years.
Instead of filling my home with stuff, I want to enhance my home with loved and cherished belongings.
Instead of blindly consuming, I want to consciously choose.
That’s what this whole ban thing is about – books, stuff, or information. I have plenty of books. I also have plenty of stuff. If I stop consuming by default, I open myself up to learn to use what I have in creative ways. I open up to better appreciate the things I already have.
I’m not forgoing my common sense – I’m not planning to go a year without buying groceries, for example. If my can opener breaks, I’ll replace it – but maybe I can find a less expensive model that does the job perfectly well. I don’t need a fancy-schmancy can opener – no matter how much The Big Box Store wants me to need the most expensive model, the fact is, I don’t.
And even though I’ve been trained (at least, a little bit) to think that I do need more, better, bigger, faster, I know better where it matters most – my heart.
Stay tuned – tomorrow brings another exciting episode of the Ban Series!