Wouldn’t it just be so amazing if we were freed from the chains of material desires that consume so much of our time, space, and money? That’s really a choice each one of us is capable of making, and it’s within our control to live it through. But most of us have sacrificed that control, handed it off to the demons of habit or still nod in favour of other arguments that justify continuing consumption.
In theory I love the idea of having less stuff. I have moved recently enough to know the hassle that arises on that side of things, and I live in a small enough unit to know the day-to-day burden of excessive possessions. Now my parents are looking to downsize from the house they raised us children in that has 24 years of shit stowed away in all available corners to pretend that they’ve de-junked sufficiently to limit what they have to what they need. That is a delusion, my friends. There is a serious purge required before they can even make their house presentable to potential buyers, let alone move.
And, having lived in that house for roughly 20 of those 24 years, I’ve contributed at least partly to that problem. There is still a garbage bag filled with my stuffed animals somewhere in that basement. I have some formal wear in a basement closet. I may have ceded ownership of a couple of DVDs and left them there upon moving. It’s not much, but it reflects a mentality of washing my hands of other people’s problems.
That is only one reason why I’m not in a position to judge. As much as I say I don’t get excessive “stuff” like gaming systems or portable music devices or an elaborate collection of purses, shoes, or other accessories – I have my vices. I insist on reading paper books that need to be stored on shelves, rather than e-books that can be contained by the hundreds in a much smaller device. I still print photos, and will be at 25,000 of them in a couple hundred albums by the end of this year. These both need shelving units. I, claiming it’s environmentally friendly, wash most loads of laundry once a month. That schedule requires a certain size of wardrobe, and the closet or dresser space to hold it. My apartment is pretty well-furnished for its size. These things all make the quantity of my possessions, if not “average”, then at least within two standard deviations as per the normal curve.
And here’s the kicker, why I shouldn’t ever wear a halo of minimalistic consumption: I’m not willing to give those things up. I would make a horrible monk. I could pump out justifications and excuses, but that would make me an exponential hypocrite because that is another habit I loathe. I am a consumer. The choices I make to limit that aren’t made to redeem myself from where I otherwise opt out. Spare joining a monastery or becoming a genuine hermit, there are no ways to fully exempt ourselves from being consumers. And so, when it comes to judging or assessing or helping others, we can only give advice piece by piece, case by case, without condescension. Unless you want to be a hypocrite. There’s always that option, if you don’t want any friends.