i recently started doing knitting/crochet for charities and it's just remarkable how many people there are in need out there. the other day i was reading a book called voluntary simplicity: toward a way of life that is outwardly simple, inwardly rich. the author talked about meeting a woman who at a conference went to the buffet and took an apple, a piece of cheese, and a piece of bread. when he asked if she was feeling okay, she explained to him that she didn't want to eat more than many other people in the world were capable of eating.
my head went twang! and the first thing i thought was, i wonder how much i have that is more than most people have. here is the list i came up with:
clothes (i think we can all make a claim to this- i'm a big thrift store shopper so i usually buy way more than i "need". some can make the claim that we have the luxury of buying more than we "need" in this day and age- but my boyfriend has half the clothes i do. what gives?)
shoes (not by much, though; i wear the same few pairs faithfully with a couple of deviations)
yarn (lord help me, and i just got a garbage bag full from my mother who was de-stashing)
diet soda (i need to stop drinking this but i'm addicted)
fabric (kind of like yarn but in lesser amounts)
i'm pretty good at keeping most things to a minimum- i am a pseudohippie after all, and do not spend gobs of money on makeup, jewelry, expensive clothing, cell phone bills, cable TV, and the like- but as far as having more than i need? definitely.
i'm human, and like every human have desires. the more wealth you have, the more you desire. so luckily my desires are few. i do not have champagne tastes on a beer budget and have never lived beyond my means. still, i am a child of excess in some ways. and forcing myself to think about how i could use LESS- well, it's unpleasant, to say the least. but it also sounds kind of... liberating.
think for yourself. what do you have too many of that most people have little to none of? don't feel bad, but don't justify it to yourself either. could you cut it by 10% and still be happy? 25%? 50%?
if i got rid of all my yarn, i'd be sad that i couldn't craft anymore, because knitting and crochet are a big part of my life. but i have way more yarn than i need. i was careful when my mom gave me hers to only pick out the skeins i'd use. still, if someone crept in at night and stole 10% of my yarn, i probably would just shrug my shoulders.
since i was a little kid i have played the what-if game. at the age of 5, my biggest fear was fire. i had a list in my head of all the things i would grab if the house suddenly caught fire. now that i'm an adult, i still play the games. what if your house suddenly caught fire? imagine you could take 5 things (not counting family, pets, etc.- pretend everything living got out okay.) what would you take? why? what would you do, standing across the street in your pyjamas, looking at all of your earthly possessions reduced to rubble?
try it. okay, it's a little depressing. but it's good food for thought.