Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wrestling Consumerism

We got home from work yesterday to see a raging forest fire directly south of us by about 7 miles. We had been able to see it all the way from town, which is about 80 kms away, so that tells you how big it was.

As we watched the smoke and the 50km/hour wind gusts through our front window I turned and picked up the phone. One of our close friends lives in that area and we wanted to make sure they were okay. Several years ago the man of this family had commented in Sunday School that he didn't care if his house burned to the ground tomorrow, if his family made it out okay, his house meant zilch in the big scheme of things. Five days later his house burned to the ground. Goosebumps went down the back of every adult who'd been with him in Sunday School that day. His family was fine. They have since rebuilt their home and their lives. Thankfully the fire was a little ways away from their place yesterday and this morning the skies are clear. There isn't even a remnant of smoke in the sky.

Dearest one and I talked last night about what we'd take if the winds shifted and the fire came our way. What we'd do if we had to evacuate. I boiled it down to the box of Rubbermaid photos of our family and the one of my writing. He added the tower of our computer and the Pugs, of course (I can't believe I forgot them!). I added my Big Book. I misplaced it last month and although I had my tiny pocket one and a large print copy I just felt restless because my original copy is all underlined and written in and it falls open naturally to pages I read often. Opening it feels similar to sliding into that faded pair of jeans that fit just right. I found it high up on a shelf last week and breathed a big sigh of relief.

I struggle a lot with trying to sort out what to make of having so many possessions in this life. Knowing that in the end they don't mean a thing. I heard a song a long time ago called I've Never Seen A Hearse With A U-Haul Trailer.

Sometimes I tell dearest one that if we live long enough to end up in a room in a nursing home what the heck are we doing accumulating more stuff just to get rid of it one day. And then there's the side of me that loves to be surrounded by beauty and the pleasure I get from beautiful possessions. Over the winter I packed up many possessions to get rid off. It hasn't stopped me from buying more although I ask myself now if I'm going to want that thing in 10 years. I started doing that after reading this quote from Warren Buffet "If you don't feel comfortable owning something for 10 years, then don't own it for 10 minutes." I look around my house and there's precious little I care about 10 years after I buy it. I don't know what the balanced way of being about this is but I do know I wrestle with it because I don't want my focus to be on stuff that doesn't matter in the end. I could analyze this to death and still not have an answer. I want to be more than a consumer in this life.

The friends of ours who lost their home in a fire don't care a rat's ass about possessions. They didn't before the fire and they still don't. They are however, big into relationships.

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