Walking through the toy aisle yesterday morning while getting groceries, I realized that it’s already been over a year and nearly two since I last splurged on collecting things I didn’t immensely care about. I still buy things and have bought things I didn’t need, like non-grocery items serving aesthetic purposes, but it’s with more intentionality now. If I buy something, I intend to use it now, so it won’t collect dust on a shelf.
I don’t look through the clearance section and buy just anything anymore.
I may still buy things that I like but I won’t buy it just because it’s cheap. That’s no discount to me! Instead, if something catches my eye, I’ll think about it, really consider what I like about it, and maybe ponder for a while around the store as I browse for other things, before returning to buy it. I suppose this practice works better in a thrift store environment than a grocery store, because there is more to distract in a thrift store.
That’s why I stopped going to thrift stores for probably a year.
I’ve been going to them now again with this learned, disciplined intentionality where I will only buy things if I know I’m going to use them. Since I’m focusing on books now, that means referring to my wishlist of books I want to read. It’s helped me stay focused when otherwise I might by any book that seems halfway appealing. I might forget that books take hours to read without having that sort of wish list.
I bought five books recently at two thrift stores.
At the first store, only one of three books were on my wishlist, but the other two would have been on my wishlist. At the second store, both were on my list. There were two others that were floating out there on my wishlist that I didn’t buy because there’s more to life than just buying everything off my wishlist. I didn’t feel like reading those books and they weren’t cheap enough to let sit around until I felt like reading them.
I still will want to read them eventually.
My videogames wishlist includes how many hours it usually takes to play through them, which helps me decide what games I would want to invest my time in playing. If it’s a game or book that I’m not excited about meandering through, why buy them? If it’s an action figure I won’t similarly enjoy, why buy it? Someone else can buy it. I already have too much stuff I’m trying to sell as it is. I don’t need to bother myself by wasting more time buying more things just to try to make a bit of profit.
That year away from collecting has helped me focus my wallet.
I think we buy new things more for the shininess of something new than the opportunity. What’s old becomes boring and what’s half-read becomes a chore to finish. I grew up undisciplined in matters materialistic so I had to subtly teach myself decluttering/de-hoarding tendencies, and that starts with time away from your frequent haunts. Now that I’m going back to thrift stores, I will still peruse my usual aisles of miscellaneous, toys, media, and more, but now it’s with that year’s worth of reflection.
‘How many years do I want to own this thing I’m considering buying today?’
When I’ve gone to thrift stores abroad, I used to feel uneasy going around, just because, ‘what happens if I see this large furniture object I’ve gotta have in my life?’ Well, I’m full up on furniture, and the apartment-mansion is similar to living abroad in that when I move out, I’ll have to carry the essentials with me, and everything I don’t care about will be donated to repeat the thrifting lifecycle once more.
All those unexciting wishlist items I never got around to reading…
All those trinkets that caught my interest for some reason or another… Those are the things that are better not to buy or collect in the first place. What’s the point of indulging in a sale on items you didn’t already want? I am now willing to pay more money for the exact item I want and decline otherwise, rather than acquiesce to a subpar item that may be cheaper, because my money is my vote and my vote has value.
I figured this all out within a few months, but a year is a good timeframe to give yourself.
That gives you the chance to consider whether you really like the objects you’re collecting in the first place, why you’re doing what you’re doing, and what items you can part ways with effortlessly.
Here’s an example: I want to get a plastic cacti to represent Naagaphanee.
That’s the cacti that is featured in my first novel as a desk cacti that the main character Sammohini has at her desk. This will serve as a visual aid for me both writing the second novel and in general, but I’m not sure how exactly I want to represent it yet. In the novel, I didn’t describe it other than it as a desk cacti, and even considering my options within Viridi hasn’t yielded many good options.
My meandry searches for fake plastic cacti at grocery stores have yielded no fruit.
Rather than find the “first” one or the “cheap” one, I want the “right” one, which requires more patience. It was just an aesthetic consideration in the first novel, too, rather than what it will possibly become in the second novel, so that’s where it’s important not to get too carried away with any little thrifty thing that catches our imagination. Buying with intention starts with considering how much you’ll use something. If it’s just to have, then forget it! If it’s something you think you’ll use, even if you don’t, then it’s worth considering buying it.
If not, what’s the point in buying something you’re not excited from possibly owning?
|Sources: My personal experiences.|
|Inspirations: Jamming on some ideas.|
|Related: Other Downsizing Zeal essays.|
|Photo: The filler spot before I got a good-enough desk cacti. It’s not perfect, but I imagine, as I start writing the second novel, then I’ll decide on the specific aesthetics.|
|Written On: 2020 February 24 [From 1:42am to “Naagaphanee” at 2:03am. From 2:17am to 2:23am. Gdocs.]|
|Last Edited: 2020 March 04 [Adapted from Gdoc, so, second draft; final draft for the Internet.]|