Sunday, October 24, 2010

When to say When

I was thinking the other day about excess. This is actually a frequent thought of mine, but for some reason, I really dug a little deeper during this round of "let's-be-super-annoyingly-deep-in-thought-while-ignoring-my-currently-important-tasks." Which is, by the way, one of my favorite games and ways to pass the time.

Anyhoo, so I'm in the midst of this round of the game and I start thinking about how much excess there is in life, and specifically my life. I have a bit of an obsessive personality (just a bit), and when I really enjoy or love something, it's difficult for me not to constantly want more of whatever that item or person may be. For example, my entire life has been spent acquiring an ever-changing wardrobe. It started as a small child (I'm convinced) when my father would take my very young, unable to walk, unable to talk body into my walk-in closet that my present self is completely jealous of and ask, "What would you like to wear, sweetie?"
The near-beginnings of "want"
Though I don't recall these incidents for myself, I have spent a lifetime being reminded of these moments by my immediate family (okay, really only mom). At a fairly early age I got my first 'real' job simply to provide myself income to support this constant need for different/new clothing.
Yep, I took photos of 'potential' outfits to see if I liked them before wearing - how sick
Sure, I shopped at Goodwill stores and other thrift stores, but I also hit up the local mall on a routine basis. The problem only worsened when in my sophomore year of high school I got a job at a retail clothing store in the mall.
Prior to Senior Prom, a photo op with mom - I got the dress at a huge discount
because I worked for the clothing store. This was actually prom dress #2, because I disliked the first one
Believe me, clothing was the last thing I needed then, and absolutely the last thing I need now. Today, I find myself constantly gifting or thrifting my wardrobe to others on a pretty regular basis. I have no money though, so where does all this clothing come from?

I used to have an obsession with cars. I hate to admit that, but it's true. Over the course of about a year and a half, I went through five cars. FIVE. In less than two years. That's insane! They were all perfectly functioning, acceptable cars, with absolutely nothing wrong with them, but for one reason or another, I continuously thought I needed a new one. At one point in my older teenage years I even had three cars at the same time. Yikes!
One of the 'set of three' cars on a trip to Oregon
Those three cars together only lasted about a week, but still, no 19 year old should actually own, in her own name, three cars. I don't know what exactly changed in regard to cars, but a few years ago I realized that the constant car changes were ridiculous and that I just needed a car that worked, was functional for our needs, and that we could afford. Fortunately, this obsession hasn't returned in the recent past, but I do keep an eye out for any occasional peeks from the car obsession monster.

One of the more recent obsessions has become bicycles. Sure, there are far worse things one could obsess over, but I am beginning to see a trend with wanting more than I really need. I got a cruiser bike for my birthday (thanks, Sam!)
which turned into a want for a lighter cruiser/city style bike,
which turned into a want for a mixte,
which turned into a want for a better city bicycle,
and then of course I needed a touring bike (because having a city bike just wasn't enough).
It's as though it's a never ending cycle (no pun intended) of wants that turn into more expensive wants. True, there were reasons for each of the changes, and the changes actually helped me eliminate the superfluous bicycles from my life, but where does it end? At what point is enough simply enough?

Despite all of these wants, I have seen the tougher side of life. I was unemployed, homeless and living in a sixteen year old, rusty Toyota at one point in life - literally living out of the trunk of my car. I know what it's like to go hungry, I know what it's like to lose every material possession, and I know what it is to feel certain on a cold night that a warm, comfortable bed would be worth anything and everything. I have known want and need - and I know the difference between spoiled-rotten-wants, and the I-may-not-live-if-I-don't-get-this kind of need. But I have to say, knowing the difference doesn't stop the wanting. Perhaps a certain amount of want in life is a good thing because it helps keep us motivated and moving forward, but I also believe there has to be some sort of gauge to know when to stop and just enjoy what one currently has in life. To live in the moment, and be present in that moment, rather than wishing for something else. I realize though that those times in life when I've had nothing, or nearly nothing, have contained some pretty memorable moments, and I think I appreciated the simpler things in life. I know I appreciated the nicer things more after this time in life.
A recent obsession was to obtain an early 60's stereo/record console -
This is the one we got (and for a good deal, I might add)
I don't seem to be able to force the wants away, and as stated, I think it's perfectly acceptable to want things in life, but I also often talk my way into the next thing, whether or not it's truly a need. Is that healthy? I'm not sure, but my internal monitor (conscience, I suppose) is telling me "No, it's not." Perhaps part of the problem at the moment is knowing that I have no personal income and that all money depends on Sam. Because of this, I feel guilty if I want anything out of the every day necessities. I am fortunate that he often finds a way for us to work out a situation so that my wants become reality, and I am grateful and fortunate to have such a man in my life, but I miss having my own income; I miss knowing that if I buy something that isn't a need, it isn't going to create a hardship somewhere else. I know that at some point in the future (and the not horribly distant future), I will be through with school, and life will resume as it once was. But, I suppose I'm trying to better understand why when I become so immersed and infatuated with something I always find a 'better version' of it and seem to want more. I suppose I just wonder where it all ends, and if I will be able to get myself mentally to a simpler place again where I appreciate even the basics in life. I do know that ultimately I would give it all up if it was necessary, and I suppose that is the true test.

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