It’s February 12th, and I started my buy nothing new challenge back on October 1st. That’s over 4 months ago.
Since I’ve started the challenge, I’ve bought nearly nothing at all, apart from the basics (medicines, foods, basic toiletries, etc.) and:
- 4 shirts from a thrift store
- 1 secondhand futon for my guestroom
- A secondhand winter parka
I’ve also downsized a lot of stuff.
The last time I shopped was a few months ago at a thrift store for the shirts above. I still remember the amazing high that I got spending money and acquiring more clothing.
Thing is, I didn’t end up using the clothing all that much. As ardently as I believed I “really” needed more clothes, I still just use between 5-10 pieces consistently.
After that experience, I stopped “browsing”. I don’t go to thrift stores to check out what might be there. I don’t make lists of things “I need”. I avoid buying things if I possibly can.
Consumerism is like a drug. It gives you an artificial high and is extremely addictive. So I do my best not to partake. I think I’ve finally been able to break out of the addiction.
The last few months have therefore pretty much been a virtual shopping ban. Even though there are things that I’d like to get, the inertia I’ve built up against shopping is stronger than my desire to shop.
It’s a strange place to be. To be honest, it is a bit of a sad place to be as well. I have some depressed days. I’ve been going through some serious existential crisis at times.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking into why. Here’s what I think.
We all suffer from an inner void. It might become apparent through a sudden burst of sadness or meaninglessness. It might come out during the tougher times in life, such as sickness, losing a loved one, or facing one’s own death. I love how Louis CK describes this in this video:
I assumed before that consumerism was the cause of these feelings. But instead, it was simply covering it up. Now that I’ve removed consumerism from my life, the void gnaws at me.
But in our spiritually devoid society, we hardly have ways of dealing with this void. Hardly any ways of even articulating it.
I’ve turned to reading extensively about the spiritual traditions in Buddhism and Islam (my own religion), and I’m starting to realize how very important it is to have spiritual practices in your life.
We all struggle with the intrinsic pain of existence. We are all aging and rushing towards death, losing those we love on the way. As the First Noble Truth of Buddhism states “Life is suffering”.
I’ve started to realize that my happiness should not, and cannot, be tied to the conditions of life. What happens outside of you cannot fill the void.
At least from what I can see from my highly unsophisticated standpoint, the people who I know who are happiest, the most beautiful, the most loving, simply shine with love and acceptance are those who have a highly evolved sense of spirituality.
I honestly thought that minimalism would be the answer to the crisis of meaning which I’d been suffering from. Instead, it’s opened up my eyes to the severity of it.
Which is hard. But also a good thing.