Lagniappe

a little something extra

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sabbath 18

Cristopher's post on this chapter gives a good summary, so I find I don't have to. Tripp's post shows a deeper, if more romanticized, message from the chapter than anything you'll read here today.

Much of "The Gospel of Consumption" is redundant information for me. But given:
a. my choice of career and its somewhat limited earning potential (a situation I believe my co-Sabbath-readers mostly share),
b. my location, where all living expenses are through the roof,
c. my single status, meaning that what I earn is what I got, no exceptions,
and finally
d. the financial challenges I've faced trying to keep the house I bought in Georgia while living in California,
... any tendencies towards gratuitous consumption would have been beaten out of me during the past year and a half.

As it is, my mother calls my decorating style "minimalistic," and I don't shop for fun, so I am not a particularly good match for Muller's description of the driven consumer who can never be satisfied.

However, the desire to consume and the ability to consume are two different problems. So even if I'm living in a way that prevents most unnecessary consumption, I can use this chapter to look at my desires and see where they may be holding me back from the happiness Muller posits as the goal he'd like to share with his readers.

For this purpose, I think the shop-but-don't-buy exercise would serve pretty well.

The practicalities of the exercise are aimed towards bricks and mortar, and for that reason at first I thought I might not do it. I truly hate to shop in clothing stores, bookstores, etc. I get "merchandise overwhelm" very quickly and wind up not buying anything and having a terrible time. I do most of my shopping online for gifts, clothing when I buy it, and so on. I use the library for books, reserving for later the decision to buy a copy of a book I really enjoyed or found useful when I read the library's copy. I use Netflix for DVDs because I don't want to own DVDs.

But then I thought, "Aha! I could do the exercise in the drugstore." Every month I make a trip to the drugstore, and picking up small odds and ends I find it easy to drop $40-50 even using coupons and special prices. So perhaps this month I'll try Muller's exercise and see how it goes. Or perhaps I'll try an online version, using one of the sites where I could easily spend hundreds of dollars if I had them and chose to use them that way.

4 Comments:

At 8:15 AM , Blogger Tripp Hudgins said...

You know, I did not address the exercise at all. Perhaps I will later. It is an interesting one, and one I have tried before.

For me it is a guitar store or, worse, a place like the House of Musical Traditions where bouzoukis, guitars, ouds and other instruments of frettish glee reside. I'm so gluttonous! I want them all! I NEED them. lol

But I don't. My old Martin knock-off and "student" mandolin will do fine. I have more than I need as it stands. But I always wrestle with the next great instrument. Zyther? Courting dulcimer? Mando-cello? Who can say.

 
At 3:11 PM , Blogger meeegan said...

I'd love to read about what you discovered when you tried this exercise before (or something like it). That would be cool.

Learning luthiery has been my escape fantasy from the theatre for a long time.

Of course, that means that even in my escape fantasies I don't make any money...

 
At 1:47 PM , Blogger kgmoreno said...

I like to pride myself that I'm relatively free from obsessive consumerism, at least in comparison to most people. That bubble popped rather unpleasantly, however, when I was browsing through the Amish clothing catalog (no pictures, of course). I found myself feeling anxious because my cash flow situation didn't permit me to purchase all the plain dress items that I needed in order to demonstrate the Quaker testimony of simplicity to the world.

"Uh-oh," I thought.

 
At 3:30 PM , Blogger meeegan said...

Ha! I'm sorry, Kevin, it took me a while to cycle back to this post where your comment was new. It sent me to Google to find out whether Thoreau ("Beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes") had been a Quaker.

What did you decide to do?

 

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