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What do I really need?

April 16, 2010 — 2 Comments
Day 8- 19 DVDs

Day 8 - Purging 19 DVDs | Photo by Jonathan Blundell

This question is really coming into mind more and more since starting WeLiveSimply — but even more so as we start packing to move.

What do I really need?

Leo Babauta writes…

Its amazing what our culture has done to us: we have been conditioned to believe that luxuries are a necessity, that we need things that most of the world doesnt even dream of having.

Look around your home right now (or when you get home). What do you see thats really a necessity? What could you do without?

You already know that most of the world lives with much less than what you see around you. Theyd be happy with clean water, shelter, some food. Forget about Macs or big-screen TVs or plush couches or iPhones or closets overflowing with shoes and clothes.

But we also forget that only a few generations ago, our grandparents and great-grandparents also lived with much less, and were perfectly comfortable and happy. Most people had very little other than the necessities and perhaps a radio. Not that long ago, people lived without TVs, cars, microwaves, electric stoves, computers, video game consoles, air-conditioning, washers, dish washers and more. Not that long ago, shopping malls didnt exist, and ordering from the Sears catalog was a luxury.

What we need is very little: a few changes of clothing at most, a pair of shoes, perhaps a few toiletries (toothpaste, deodorant, soap), some food, a roof over our heads.

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April Fool's Day

Photo by demibrooke

I’ve got a little challenge going on over at WeLiveSimply starting tomorrow – April 1 – April Fool’s Day…

To kick off April we’re starting a Living Simply Challenge – A Fool Month of Purging.

Based on Ross’ challenge from rcThink earlier this year, the goal will be to rid ourselves of the stuff we’ve been “fooled into thinking we need.”

The challenge begins Thursday — April 1 and ends April 30.
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It’s All Stuff

February 5, 2004 — Leave a comment

Last week I caught an old George Carlin show on my new satellite dish.

It’s amazing what a small 18″ piece of metal can do to for an otherwise quiet evening.

Now while I’ve read and studied theology from a number of sources, I never expected to get a lesson in theology from Carlin.

It goes to show that God can use anything and anyone to teach you something important.

Carlin who is widely known for his routine on the 7 words you can never say on television (although recently I’ve began to doubt those are still accurate) gave a very hysterical and fairly accurate viewpoint on materialism.

Stuff.

That’s all it is. Stuff.

“You know why we have houses?” Carlin began. “It’s so we can keep all our stuff in them. And when we buy a new house and we have to buy more stuff to fill our house.”

He continued by saying that if we didn’t have any stuff we wouldn’t need a place to keep all our stuff while we go to work, to make more money, so we can buy more stuff, to keep in the place, where we keep all our stuff.

Oh how true it is.

And when we get too much stuff, we have to go buy a bigger house, to keep all our new stuff.

Then we find out that we have a new room that’s empty, we go out and buy more stuff, to keep in our house.

It’s such a vicious cycle.

I myself have been caught in this rat-race before and if I’m not careful, I can get caught up in it again.

As I’ve been telling my Sunday school class “the reason we buy newer bigger stuff typically, is because we see our neighbors or friends or family members buy bigger better stuff.”

I was perfectly content with the three or four channels my 19” television picked up until I kept seeing friend after friend with a 32″ television and 100 channels.

And now that I’ve upgraded to a satellite dish, I can’t pick up KNCT, the local PBS affiliate. I had begun getting very addicted to their documentaries and of course “Austin City Limits.”

Along with upgrading my television options, I’m considering buying a house.

It makes me wonder, am I buying a home as a wise investment or as a place to keep more of my stuff.

The house I have now is great. Granted, it’s right next to the rail road track and I found out last week at the Belton City Council meeting that apparently the majority of people in my neighborhood don’t like renters — but otherwise it’s a great house that holds my stuff.

And I even have a whole extra bedroom room where I can hide my “junk stuff.”

So what should I do?

Should I spend the extra money each month to have my own place where I can do what I want? Or should I be content with the things I have and avoid the worry and trouble of owning a house?

It’s a difficult decision.

Unfortunately Carlin didn’t give any real good theological answers.

Luckily King Solomon did over 3,000 years ago.

As we discussed in my Sunday school class this week, Solomon asks, in Ecclesiastes 6, what good is it to have money and never enjoy it.

“I looked long and hard at what goes on around here, and let me tell you, things are bad. And people feel it. There are people, for instance, on whom God showers everything–money, property, reputation — all they ever wanted or dreamed of. And then God doesn’t let them enjoy it. Some stranger comes along and has all the fun. It’s more of what I’m calling smoke. A bad business.”

One of the members in my class, brought an article to class this week that really illustrated this point.

The article told of a man who had won a huge sum of money and within an hour of wining it, was struck and run over by a car, killing him instantly.

What good was his money?

Now in no way am I promoting the idea of going out and splurging all your money to keep up with your neighbors — Solomon says repeatedly in chapters one and two that that’s only chasing after the wind. But I think Solomon also says to enjoy the blessings God gives you while you can.

“Say a couple have scores of children and live a long, long life but never enjoy themselves — even though they end up with a big funeral! I’d say that a stillborn baby gets the better deal. It gets its start in a mist and ends up in the dark–unnamed. It sees nothing and knows nothing, but is better off by far than anyone living. Even if someone lived a thousand years–make it two thousand!-but didn’t enjoy anything, what’s the point? Doesn’t everyone end up in the same place?”

Solomon says later, “Just grab whatever you can while you can; don’t assume something better might turn up by and by. All it amounts to anyway is smoke. And spitting into the wind. Whatever happens, happens. Its destiny is fixed. You can’t argue with fate.”

So, where does that leave my decision about buying a house or even buying more stuff that will someday fill a landfill?

I don’t know.

Sorry if you were expecting a great revelation from me.

I’m still examining how all this applies to my current situation — and I won’t even bring my desire to buy a Harley Davidson into the picture.

But I do know that above all I’m going to do everything possible to keep from getting caught up in the proverbial rat-race and still enjoy life and the blessings I have each day.