I decided to allow myself to go shopping today, despite my New Year’s resolution not to buy anything new this year. I wanted to treat myself. To date I have not purchased anything new for myself. I have bought two books for a friend, I couldn’t find them used and didn’t want to give used books as a gift. I also bought myself a new journal, let’s be real, a used journal would be pretty useless. I honestly thought I would have trouble limiting myself to one thing, especially with all of the new spring clothes and shoes out and a necessary romp through a bookstore that carries the specific type of journal I use for writing my Morning Pages.
To my shock I came home empty handed. There was not one thing I really wanted, and definitely nothing I needed. The thrill of walking through the stores. The excitement of trying on new clothes. Gone. Three months ago I would have come home with at least one new book and at least one new article of clothing. Today I found myself seriously considering how much use I would get out of each item, where I would put it, and what else I could do with the money required to purchase each new thing I looked at. It turns out I didn’t really want anything. Being amongst all of the new, pretty things, was not so exciting. I was kind of bored to be honest.
I was re-reading parts of Hooked: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume the other morning. The answer to why I no longer feel even temporarily happy when shopping and buying new things was pretty clearly spelled out for me. In her essay, “Taming the ‘I Want’ Mind,” Sunyana Graef writes, “The unbridled consumerism of our culture fosters the belief that all we have to do to be happy is to satiate our desires.” She goes on to talk about the fact that the more we consume the more our cravings increase. Judith Simmer-Brown lays it out clearly in her essay, “Cultivating the Wisdom Gaze,” “pursuing our desires leads to more and more desire rather than the satiation of desire.” By stopping my cycle of constantly buying I have stopped the constant need to satiate myself in that way, which in the long run only created more and more desire to buy stuff. I have also come to a place of greater contentment in my life. Things are far from perfect, but they are also far from being awful. There aren’t so many holes to fill with stuff right now. However, the fact still remains that tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and I do not have anything green to wear while teaching my yoga classes tomorrow, which was kind of the whole purpose of going shopping today.