Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Creeping Materialism

I didn’t notice that we were closet materialists until  …. well, until we emptied out all our closets!
Last fall, my wife and I reluctantly moved out of our yurt for the winter months, and purchased an old home in desperate need of extensive repairs nearby.  There were a few reasons for the decision. 
First, at age 60, I am getting somewhat reluctant to shovel snow from a driveway that is 975 yards long, in a Manitoba winter.  On average, we would be shovelling ten to twelve times per year, and, after doing it twice in one week last winter, I knew that I did not want to do it again.  Being a bit of an eco-freak, I also refuse to buy a tractor or snow blower, just yet.  So, it was shovel or shove off.  I chose the latter.
Second, also because I am a bit of an eco-freak and consider myself to be handy, I felt that, if I upgraded the windows, doors, insulation and heating system on this old house, the home would be a great year-round retirement place, at a very good price, for some lucky buyer.
Third, I was not yet ready for full retirement, and this project would provide me with a fair amount of exercise, a little extra cash and a chance to learn new curse words as I demolished the old interior.  (I did learn those new words, by the way.)
But moving for only the winter months meant that we opted to buy a few new items of furniture, new window coverings, new fixtures, a few new tools, new accessories for staging the home when we sold, and even new clothes (because the snow was too deep to get back to the yurt, in winter, when we left for vacation).
This spring, we put the house up for sale.  It didn’t sell.  Then, it didn’t sell.  And, by late summer, it still didn’t sell. So, we put the land and yurt up for sale.  In two days, it sold.  Then, on the day after closing the deal on the yurt, a potential buyer offered us an acceptable price on the house.  We didn’t sell. 
So now, we had to move everything from the yurt to the house. That was when we discovered that we were closet materialists.  In a strange way, we were “outted” by a lack of closets.  Today, our garage is overflowing with surplus possessions.  Our home is as full as any other materialist’s home, but with a strange assortment of stuff that we neither wanted nor needed, but purchased, “just in case.”  Extra spring jackets, extra pictures, extra seating, extra space heaters, extra lighting, extra lawn accessories and so on. We have three air compressors (for roofing), since one failed on the day we needed it and the other was trapped, by the snow, at the yurt.    We have four hammers, extra cabinets, two sofas, two barbeques, an extra oven, two washers, two dryers and four ladders.
I only purchased what I felt we absolutely needed, when we needed it.  Yet, as you can see from this partial list, I have a surfeit of stuff.  This is the most commonly travelled path to materialism: we fail to plan ahead, we purchase for the moment and we confuse wants with needs.  It is creeping materialism.
This weekend, though, we will hold a garage sale.  Regardless of the price, we will be unburdening ourselves of our excess.  Anyone need an air compressor for a buck? And, do you know where I can by an extra yurt?

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