Those who know me probably know two things about me: 1) That I’m not Catholic; 2) That I LOVE to shop. So they might be wondering why it would be important to me to give up that which I love, in the name of a religion I’m adamantly, and never have been a part of. The reason being, I have a shopping problem. And Lent is a prescribed 40-day deadline in which people give up that which they love. So I’m not Catholic. So what? I’ve decided to become a part of a fine tradition of giving things up for this 40-day period anyways.
My shopping problem is mostly with clothes but sometimes I find, I wander through the day just coming up with things that I need to own for a variety of reasons. But, the thing is — I never end up with things that I ‘need’; for instance, I need dishes. Actual dishes. I’ve been eating off of cheap plastic plates and Ziploc containers for the last three months. But, instead of dishes I have a barrage of new sundresses, jackets, jeans, fun shirts, boots, and a new clutch purse ‘for the bar’. It’s ridiculous. Why do I have all this stuff?
Shopping is a two-tiered problem. The first of those problems is, “How can I afford to pay for all this stuff?” The second of those problems is, “Where to I put all this stuff?”
I live in a 700-square foot apartment (in a hotel, but that’s not relevant to the story). And I’m looking around my living room right now and it’s actually surrounded by mountains of stuff — in bags, in boxes, sitting on its own, unopened or opened… just surrounded. I feel like a hoarder. I’m not though… yet. But sometimes I look at all this shit I don’t need and wonder if I could end up that badly someday. I don’t WANT to get there. I want to stop this before it gets real! But that doesn’t solve the problem of what do I do with all this stuff?
Once you acquire stuff, it’s much harder to get rid of than if you’d never bought it at all. Belongings (or at least, a select number of them) become a part of who you are; they define you — what you love, what you treasure, what you hold dear, what ‘stuff’ defines you emotionally. And when you look back at all your stuff you recall a time when you bought it, and why. And it becomes difficult to part with. And even if you did part with it, how do you part with it? Do you sell it? Give it away? Who do you give it to? How do you get it to them? When I finally clean up this mess of mountains of crap, how do I organize it? It just creates more problems than just leaving it on the shelf ever would…
Giving up something that you once perceived as important is a powerful step to exorcise your demons. It hasn’t even been a week yet since the start of Lent, but I want to feel like I exorcised. I want to feel like I’m lacking something in my life and find other more productive ways to fill that lack rather than with belongings. I want to become more appreciative of what I have rather than pining for what I don’t. Lent seems to be about the best way for me right now to really feel that feeling and see how the anxiety can continually disappear on its own.