Thinking about “stuff”

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about material things. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I think a lot of it has to do with my changing perspective on materialism. This past week I happened to visit a Wal-Mart for something I needed. Wal-Mart (at least in America) is a bastion of consumerism and materialism gone wild. Everywhere you look are signs advertising the lowest prices on things that you often didn’t even know that you needed. The aisles are filled with bins and pallets of random things that scream, “you need me!”, despite being of questionable quality. Even when you look at electronics, the aisles were filled with ultra-cheap TV’s that are subsidized by systems of data collection that monitor what you watch so that you can be advertised to more effectively.

Years ago I was right on board with a lot of this. Before my divorce, our house was FILLED with more things than you can imagine. Not in a hoarder way, but simply full. We didn’t think twice about buying whatever we wanted (not going to get into the credit card debt issue…), and in many ways we used it as a way to make ourselves feel better. When I look around my house now, the number of those things that still remain is so small, it’s not even funny.

I’ve started to think more about quality. Not just quality of goods, but quality of life. I’m not against having things, and I would never suggest that minimalism is a lifestyle I could ever adopt. However, I’ve been trying to be more and more intentional about the things I purchase, and making sure that they actually are meant to improve the quality of life that I’m trying to live. That means that purchasing outdoor gear (for example) is money well spent, as being outside and exploring has become a major part of who I am and what I want to be about. The things that I buy, I want to mean something to how I’m living my life. Not just something random that makes me feel good.

That also brings up the other side of quality. I’ve really started to appreciate good quality things, and understand the benefit of making something really good last a lot longer. Especially in the world of electronics, it’s so easy to buy cheap garbage that is outdated and doesn’t work for more than a year. Back in 2011 I invested in a good quality desktop computer (iMac), and then a few years ago upgraded it to an SSD. I’m STILL using this machine as my daily driver 9 years later. Sure it cost me a lot of money back when I bought it, but that’s money that I haven’t had to spend again in 11 years. It’s finally getting time where I’m outpacing what this machine can do, and once again I’ll look to make a long-term investment, instead of a short-term disposable one.

As I spend weekends continuing to purge old stuff that we don’t need, I look forward to a world where maybe we tone down our consumerism just a bit. We don’t need to stop buying things, but maybe we can do it with a bit more thought, intention, and eye towards longevity.

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