I have reread a book I picked up in 1991 called <A href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0920256368/qid%3D1103092679/sr%3D2-1/ref%3Dpd%5Fka%5Fb%5F2%5F1/002-4589175-7951205">A Reasonable Life</a>.
It's very idealistic and doesn't offer much in practicality of steps to take if one is already living in a city (the ultimate suggestion of this book is to leave the city, buy 2 acres in the country and grow food for you and to sell, and live in a community again instead of in a crowded mecca of small boxes where everyone sits and watches tv alone.) But it also just discusses, even back in the 90's, our obsession with size and more, more, more. The paper this weekend, in the home section, had as it's feature article a story on how the monster garage was a necessity now so that "people could commune with their cars." The lead quote was from a guy who said "I love my stuff, and now I have a six car garage and it's still not enough."
That's just the pinnacle of the problem. A six car garage isn't big enough for him to stash all his extra stuff that he "loves." Realtors are selling 1200 sq. ft. houses with 950 sq. ft. garages. Space for stuff, not for family, friends, community. The very existsence of "self-storage" in America is a testament to this obsession and spiral of debt surrounding owning THINGS. Storage is great if one is between homes, life changes, etc. But renting space for months and years just to hold the crap you can't fit in your house that you then "visit" now and then in storage? Just chuck it!
Bleah. I'm thinking about writing a letter to the editor on that one.
So what am I doing? Stressing over money a little, as we all know, but reading about more simple living and breathing easier. When I worry about this stuff I'm falling into the societal norm of having enough to BUY a lot. What I need right now is just enough to get by…getting by is OK when you aren't overspending and circling in envy and desire over what the guys next door have. That I don't do. What I want money for is saving it, so it could be worse, these frustrated feelings while the bills all fell at once on our heads. But I haven't dipped in savings yet, might have to when property taxes come by, but that is what that batch of savings is FOR.
I've also decreased my television time, which was already minimal.
One of my cousins has overprogrammed kids who have activities always scheduled, always, no time to just rest or read or do their own thing. So when they do have time…they watch tv. For HOURS. Hours of mindless staring. It bugs me that magazines sell drugs for our kids who have ADD, so fashionable…the symptoms of which are often misdiagnosed, but also, can be a result of watching so much television at a young age. All the fast editing, quick motions, quickly resolved plots and answering of desires…no wonder kids are suffering this nouveau mental disorder du jour. I watch ER, a home and garden show on Saturday Morning, and the Simpsons Sunday night. I've stopped watching the morning news, I read my news or hear it on the radio. I still play my video games, but less than 5 hours a week right now. These are positive moves for myself. If anything, reading has been my "passive drug" of choice, but I refuse to see reading books as such a thing. Yes, it's solitary, but it works the brain and the imagination. And as a writer, reading other's words is imperative to improving one's own faculties.
So that's how I am doing. And I'm planning my vegetable garden now, I know where it will go in the yard, next year I will be consuming my own foods that I grew myself, instead of buying packaged, trucked tomatoes, beans and potatoes. Gardening will be healthy food, healthy exercise and a way to connect back into life, instead of buying life in the glo-lights and fake rain of the produce aisle.
So that's how that is going, so far.
And I picked up some free ebooks on basic buddhism concepts, just to explore the principles. I won't let my glasses of wine stop me this time from at least learning more!