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One Fewer Item in the Shopping Cart
By Paisley Hibou
I find myself no longer wanting things. I want moments. Experiences. Stories. Not that I'm a monk. I still have things. I simply don't want additional things most days. Every time a friend invites me to go shopping these days, I decline. The exception lies in book shopping. But even then, I'm not usually shopping. I'm browsing. I amble through the aisles, flip through interesting titles, and, if it's a larger bookstore, I just might plop down on the floor and read for a while. Yet I haven't been buying many books; I generally go to the library or trade with friends. I buy food, toiletries, essentials. I have worn the same clothes for years. My kitchenware and home goods have not changed much, either. But my repertoire of memories and sensations is ever-growing.
Today I went to a charity thrift shop in a city I'd never visited before. The thrift shop is committed to employing adults with developmental disabilities that make finding a job a challenge. While I wanted to help the charity, I also wanted to be sure that I wasn't buying stuff that would only crowd my home or be of no real use to friends. I grabbed a shopping card and began rolling through the narrow aisles, inspecting everything from plush animals to old magazines.
The first thing I put in my cart was a book about dinosaurs with 12-foot fold-out posters. I knew just the person who would appreciate this $2 gift. The next thing I did was think about myself. There were plenty of good books lining the shelves. And by "good" I mean they would keep me occupied on a bus ride if not actually change my life forever. I found a complete and unabridged pocket-size Jane Eyre with precious golf leaf pages. Oh, and what a pretty preface: "To the Public, for the indulgent ear it has inclined to a plain tale with few pretensions. To the Press, for the fair field its honest suffrage has opened in an obscure aspirant. To my Publishers, for the aid their tact, their energy, their practical sense and frank liberality have afforded an unknown and unrecommended Author."
Next, I was tempted by a pair of turquoise suede shoes. They were crazy. Indulgent. Unnecessary. So I tried them on. I even put them in my cart. But not five minutes later, I removed them.
The way I see it, a book, while also a thing, is an experience. You might be with that book only a couple of hours, but possibly days, weeks, even months. Once you're done with the book, you can trade it for another and get tangled up in a new tale or field of study. Shoes? I have plenty already. Once you have a good pair of walking shoes to lead you to new adventures, you're set. And right now that's what I'm looking for: adventures, big and small. Novelties with purpose.
Here are three things you can try now if you're looking to expand your own repertoire of simple, new experiences:
• Nurture someone or something. This could be a sick or elderly person, a stray animal, a plant that's struggling to stay alive—really any living thing that needs a little help and a little love. I'm lucky to know several people who work in healthcare and even more who cultivate gardens or rescue injured animals. Nurturing is purely about giving. And it's something you can do many times in many ways.
• Read a new book from cover to cover. Try to accomplish this in as few uninterrupted sittings as possible. Allow your imagination to fly. Be sure to give the book to a friend when you're finished so you can share the story.
• Try a new recipe and prepare a meal for someone in need. The recipe doesn't have to be fancy, just something you've never (successfully) attempted before. And the recipient could be a homeless person or a loved one who needs a little pick-me-up. Food heals.
Now I'm off to research new camping spots for my sister. (Camping's another great experience, especially if you've never tried it before.) What new experiences would you recommend?
#Priorities #Values #AntiShopping #NotBuyingALot