My friend Gregg likes to tease me about my Mormon upbringing. He pretends to confuse me with an Amish person & makes up elaborate stories. There was one, for instance, where I consider blowing out a candle blasphemy since Jesus is the light of the world. He can always make me laugh because his teasing is better than the real questions I’ve gotten from others. Like how many parents I have or if I’ve raised any barns lately.
But, the Mormon influence does rear its stubborn head in different ways. I’m finding that the more time goes by, the more I disregard the material things in my life. I used to be fiendishly addicted to my PS2. I subscribed to Alternative Press & scoured Plan 9 for the latest releases. My favorite day of the week used to be Tuesday, also known as “lay-down day” in the retail world. That’s when all the new media product (books, CDs, DVDs) came out.
But now on Black Friday, one of the most moneyed days of the year, I feel the same sort of fervid denial as anyone who follows the Word of Wisdom. Acquiring stuff just doesn’t do it for me any more. I’ve given away my PS2; I’m lucky if I average a CD purchase every three months. The last time I splurged & bought something “pricey” was months ago when I bought a new mp3 player. I had to convince myself to buy it because I had this persistent little voice that told me I didn’t really need it.
(Of course, the latest issue of VQR doesn’t help matters either. It’s about how countries are exploited for the raw materials that make up our electronics & the toll it takes on humankind. You’ll never look at a USB cable the same way again.)
I’m far from renouncing all worldly possessions; I’m not a complete ascetic (yet). My two big weaknesses are still jewelry & books. A woman’s jewelry collection is the work of a lifetime & my friends have gotten used to my Facebook notes on my newest book binges. But, yesterday during Thanksgiving, I was sitting in front of my bookcases & regarding my collection.
It struck me once again how books I have that I haven’t read. Instead of laughing at myself & promising to do better, I felt like a bit of an ingrate. There were books that friends & family had given me that I had never touched. I could remember clearly how happy I’d been to receive them, but now they sat dusty & untouched.
So I decided that starting December 1st, I will not buy any new books for myself for a year. Give myself some time to go through what I have & appreciate my choices, instead of grasping at something because, dammit, it’s been at least a year & a half since I bought the damn thing.
I don’t know if I can actually make it through a whole year without succumbing to buying a Gorey cover or leaving Griffin or Riverby’s without a new purchase. Maybe my idealism will inspire a few more jokes. But for now, I want to value what I have before I add any more to my shelves.