I have just returned from a relaxing holiday in the Bahamas with my daughters and some friends. We arrived at Nassau Airport with an abundance of time before our flight, so I poked around the local craft shop. YES-scored a great deal on some LOVELY necklaces and matching earrings for my daughters’ upcoming birthdays. These will pair nicely with the meaningful mugs which say “Keep Calm and Wear Flip-Flops” I purchased for them at Blue Lagoon Island. AND I found a multi-colored bead necklace for myself at the same airport craft shop. This will go with EVERYTHING-what a great find.
The dopamine flows for this hunter and gatherer. There is a deep sense of satisfaction in scoring such treasures. This is who I AM-Paula Webster-super shopper. From the silk market in Beijing to the flea markets on Cape Cod; from the aisles of Target to the bins at my favorite semi-annual warehouse sale, I am a shopper. As I mature and move gently towards a wiser (hopefully) and down-sized (definitely) life, of course I don’t want to accrue additional possessions that will need to be eventually discarded. Yet the desire to hunt and gather still burns strong; what about my kids? My friends? What about the local culture and economy where I visit?
A day after my return from the Bahamian getaway, I hear a discussion on “All Things Considered” about two women’s year without shopping. WHAT? My interest in piqued. I have been flirting with my attraction to “The Minimalists”, the two fellows (Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus) who have embraced a lifestyle of minimal acquisition. They now teach others how to do the same. They are enchanting; convincing in their authenticity and inspiring in how simply they live. They also have no kids, and look great wearing black jeans every day.
Now I hear these mature women talking about no shopping. Sure, they bought necessities-food, toiletries, and I assume if their sandals broke they could replace them. Just no “recreational” shopping.
I toyed with the idea before the holidays of not buying gifts and donating the gift money to disaster relief for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, but I caved! I did donate more money than I would have otherwise, but I noticed I found limited access to the holiday spirit without buying stuff.
I also noticed how drawn I was to the candy sushi package at the store I walked by this morning. “How cool” I thought. “Buy it for my girls? Maybe someone else?” I took notice-great notice-of this urge to acquire this completely unnecessary novelty item. Why? What is it feeding? What other urges do I feed through acquisition? When I purchase for others, I am the good guy-the bearer of gifts-you will like me even more. This act of thoughtfulness connects us. It is a tangible sign I am thinking of you in that moment. It is also a distraction, whether I am shopping for others or myself, and perhaps is a way to fill a void.
There’s lots of potential for investigation here, so I am signing on to the no-shopping-for-a-year-safari….want to join me?