Sunday, November 4, 2012

Wait a while

One question that I am asked frequently is something along the lines of, "Well, what if you want to buy something?" or "What if you need to buy something?" My answer to these questions, which seems a little Buddhist, is that I just wait a while: "I wait a week, and I think about whether I still need to buy it. If I still feel that I want to buy something, I wait another week."

Time is one metaphysical concept that has been at the forefront of everything I have written over the past few years, whether in the shape of legacycompulsivenessconvenienceinstantaneousness, longevity, seasons, and cycles, or contradictions. And it is a form of time again that is at play with materialism and purchasing, too.

Our fast-paced lives and the ever-quickening pace of technology make it very difficult to wrap our minds around how ecological degradation itself is quickening because of our choices. The steps we take in our daily lives are taken faster and faster. We used to saunter, now we are constantly out of breath. If we need to relax to bring our minds at ease, why not also relax before we impulsively acquire?

Waiting is not an exercise in austerity or abstinence, but rather an investigation of need and want. Waiting opens up the mental space to more fully evaluate the impacts of choices on our wallets, on this culture, on our Earth. It also gives us more time to understand and appreciate what we have already. Waiting to get something automatically makes you appreciate it more than if you bought it on a whim. How do you know the importance of something if you don't really understand what it is like being without something? And if you have been without something until now, have you fully appreciated your life without it? Thinking about these questions and acting on the answers is a form of slowing down our fast lives. It is a form of cultural criticism and self-reflection that has very real and tangible consequences. 

I admit to buying two new things in the last year--two pairs of football/soccer shoes, one for turf, and one for outdoor use--and I bought them after about a year of waiting to buy them. Of course, it is unreasonable to ask people to stop buying. But it is wholly reasonable to ask them to wait, and to see what happens.

See what Jason has to say about waiting.

1 comment:

  1. You have nailed it! I have been doing the same unknowingly...feels good now :) Thanks for penning down this piece. Makes sense!