Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nothing New -- Half Way There

Today is the 16th, which means that the month is just about exactly 1/2 way over.  There have been one or two challenges, but mostly the wife and I have sailed through the month of nothing new with hardly a hiccup.  My thinking has changed in two pretty major ways, however, as a result of making this pledge and thinking about it every day.

The first is that I now walk around my house and look at every object in a new light.  What would I do if this thing broke, or if I didn't have it in the first place and decided that I needed it?  Where would I go to replace it?  Where did I purchase this item in the first place?  How difficult was it to find?

Looking around my living room now I think that about 90% of what I see was purchased second hand or inherited.  The other 10% was mostly gifted to us by family.  I only really see a handful of things that we bought new: the Dyson Ball Vacuum (which our allergies dictate we must own), a steel H2Ozone water canister, and one purchase that I regret immensely: some white curtains from Walmart that are not quite actually opaque enough to disperse the southern sunlight properly.  In the past 15 and 3/4 days I have been staring at those curtains thinking "if we had only kept looking in thrift stores, if we hadn't given up, we would have something even better now."

I realize it is pretty indulgent to be kicking myself for the one thing in the room that is not easily justified, but maybe that was the point of this challenge in the first place: to hold myself to a higher standard.  And now, whether or I like it or not, I cannot help but feel that I cheated before I even began.  That is because of the second shift in my thinking.

I now realize that I had been so well stocked on disposable goods before I even began this challenge that a serious threat to it's success never materialized.  This was not by design, I was this well stocked before I even came up with the idea.  I have a years supply of razors in my medicine cabinet (which is not hard, a razor lasts me several months since I only shave the edges of my beard).  We have practically a pallet of Kleenex from Costco, because we both have dust allergies that require year round daily nose blowing.  And now every time I use one of these things, I realize that if I had not already stocked up, and then ran out, I would pretty much be forced to buy something new.

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Of course I could start blowing my nose in a washable handkerchief, or purchase a used straight razor (which isn't quite so creepy as it sounds, I could soak it in bleach for a day before using it), but I have to ask myself if
I would actually do these things if push came to running out of razors.  And the answer is: I don't know.  I would like to think that I would, but perhaps I would be weak.

At the midway point, I am now thinking that one month is really not sufficient for a lasting change or in depth analysis of how I live.  There have been one or two interesting dilemmas, but I feel that the most important realization that I have had is that it is easy to feel like I am making a change without actually doing anything of substance, and at the midpoint of this month long challenge I am already thinking of how to extend it, how to modify the rules, how to go further.

For now I am only thinking, and the only action that I am taking is to finish the month by the rules, and continuing to examine how my life would be different if this challenge were permanent.
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