This weekend, my 14 year old asked me why he’s only allowed two pairs of running shoes - one for school, as required for his uniform, and the other for everything else – when so many other people he knows have a different pair for every outfit. My response? It's unnecessary and wasteful. And although I'm pretty sure he's still at least halfway convinced I’m just really cheap, on another level, I know he gets it... and either way, that is that.
Just because we can have something, doesn't mean we should. Yet living when and where we do, exposed to such an unlimited wealth of material possibilities, it's often very difficult to know where to draw the line. So when is enough, enough? And why do so many of us feel compelled to surround ourselves with so much "stuff"?
In some cases, I think it stems from an ingrained need to "keep up with the Joneses" - in fear of being judged less worthy. In other instances, it’s simply the excitement of acquiring the latest greatest thing driving us. And if we can afford it in that moment we think, “Why not?” But the reality of all this stuff we collect is that it's bogging us down; it's cluttering our minds, our homes and eventually, our landfills.
While I am certainly no paragon of anti-clutter virtue, I love the idea of home as a sanctuary containing only those things truly necessary to happiness and wellbeing. To this end, I am trying hard not to make so many impulse purchases and to be more aware of what my family and I need, versus what we may want, for a whole assortment of unimportant reasons. And if it turns out that this new way of living makes it easier to put the kids through college, then that’s all the better!