Day one of No Spend Week is well in hand. I'm laying low tonight, and well stocked for it.
I've been reading the book my friend Christine gave me, 'Not Buying It', by Judith Levine (I follow her site-see side panel). I finally finished '1984', which was very tough going at the end. I can't wait to discuss it at my bookclub. I'm quite enjoying Not Buying It, and am just about half way through. Judith and her partner did a much more rigorous challenge than me in 2003. They decided not to buy anything but absolute necessities, and for them this included not going out unless it was free. My ground rules allow me to enjoy going out (aka experiences), which is a whole different game.
Judith has written using humour and smarts and she has done her homework. Some interesting themes have come up in her book - she writes it as part research of the phenomenons of shopping, economy, and consumerism etc., part diary of doing without. One is that without being able to spend, in some ways she feels less power and as such is like a child, "and all children are beggars". i.e.: when she finds herself girding her loins to ask for something she can't purchase (she forgot her ski wax at home and had to beg from the store clerk for a smear of it).
She discussed the experience of boredom (also found in children) when it crept up on her. I love one of the quotes she uses by Adam Phillips about boredom being "the mood of diffuse restlessness which contains that most absurd and paradoxical wish, the wish for a desire." She likens the boredom she feels - unable to go out to movies and restaurants and cultural events with a price tag - to the boredom of a child waiting for something to come along to do, and looking for something. It can be very uncomfortable.
She talks about how adults can skip boredom by going shopping. Except she can't. And that shopping can circumvent boredom not just by distraction, but also because it carries the promise of more happiness, more status, beauty, etc. albeit temporarily. Without shopping or going out to her usual social events she is riding out this "excruciating restlessness...waiting to know what to want."
I can relate to that feeling. Sometimes not being able to spend makes me feel an urge or want, like giving up smoking did at first. Not sure what I actually want, and unable to fill the void with a glut of mindless shopping. Sometimes with a chunk of time on my hands I spin my wheels for what to do with it. I am trying to be able to chill out more and not need to constantly be doing something or ticking off my to-do list. As always, it and me are works in progress.
Talk to you soon, and anticipate me coping with/fending the advance of boredom that we are trained to consume into oblivion, during this week of not using money. Hey, maybe I can try the barter system if I get bored.
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