Dealing with materialism

I’m shocked sometimes how much I can be thrown off balance by loss of or damage to my possessions. I’ve always tried to cultivate a spiritual outlook on life, recognizing that material things are temporary and not the foundation of happiness or well-being. I have, at times, lost things and let them go without a blink. Sometimes, though, I obsess for a long, long time. Three vignettes:
1. I purchased a black v-neck fitted merino wool sweater last winter. I loved it. It was so comfortable, professional and yet cool (okay, maybe not for others, but for me!), and simply elegant. I wore it, but not so often because I treasured it so much. And because, yes, it was a bit of a pain to hand-wash. I wore it twice this season, and just hand washed it, and when I squeezed it out to dry I realized that it had been completely chomped up by moths. Irreparably. Devastated, and find myself declaring that I’ll never buy anything new again as it’s not worth it.

2. We went to VV tonight for shopping and socializing :). Driving away I realized that we didn’t have our girl’s hat, and I knew she had worn it into the store. This was a simple, comfortable, cute and warm winter hat that is my top choice for her every day. I think it cost a dollar, and as you probably know, cost is unrelated to value. There really didn’t seem to be any point in going back to look for it. We have other winter hats, but I can’t stop brooding.

3. Before we moved, we gave away my old printer. I’d had it for 10+ years. It was an ancient laser jet. I used it rarely, and had never replaced the ink, and it smeared on the edges, and we had to buy an adapter for USB ports, and I loved it, passionately. Old and reliable and classic and easy to use. We bought a new wireless all-in-one laser machine. Guess what? I can’t print to it. I’m furious, angry, frustrated and totally unable to deal with the loss of this ancient item. I try not to think about it or I find my emotions interfere with my body – I want to flail my arms and scream.

Do material things matter? I have many thoughts on this. I’m also a bit tired, so I’ll leave those for another time.

Facing materialism

I am nearing the end of my shopping streak, and am somewhat relieved. My wardrobe feels much more workable, so that objective seems to be achieved. I no longer feel pressure to find time on weekends and nights to rush out and scour the racks for essential clothing items. My credit card can take a break, my time will be my own again.
Unfortunately and predictably, the materialistic obsessions that are fed by shopping – particularly in new stores (yes, 2nd hand shopping is still my norm :)) – are strong and hard to subdue.

Today I returned a few items I had purchased (part of my with-child shopping plan: buy and try on at home). The shoes went back without a problem, though I do feel a slight desire for more shoes.

The dress, that was harder. The lovely red sheath dress – something like this one, but much more elegant. Aside, of course, from the not-quite right-fitting top and the pouchy stomach. Oh, it felt great when I zipped up that dress! The layered detailing was feminine but not over the top. It fit comfortably and yet made me look great. I am mourning the loss of that dress and the lifestyle and activities it represents.

I am also salivating ever so slightly over some machine-washable merino wool sweaters marked down 60%. I got a black v-neck sweater, because it looks great and inspired by this clothing essentials list. Of course, seeing them still on sale and realizing that this gorgeous sweater only cost $35, I desperately want another one. In another colour, of course! If they had had a red v-neck in my size today I would have snatched it up. I still am tempted to go back, check the selection and pick up another one. So elegant, simple, long-lasting. Classic.

And, I have enough sweaters. I really want to retain the minimalism within the “feeling good about myself and my wardrobe” trend. I want, not only to have enough clothes to wear, but to feel good about wearing each item I find in my closet. I want to have just enough clothes so I have variety, but not so many that I forget what I own.

I am reminded of one telling moment in grad school where I brought home yet another pair of comfy attractive black leather shoes from Target and discovered a similar pair, unworn, still in the box, in my closet. That kind of thing has NEVER happened to me, before or since. But still … at that point in my life, minimalism wasn’t what I was going for. Neither was quality. It was shopping cheap, buying what seemed okay, and ending up with a big, big wardrobe (okay, one big would probably be enough :)) but not the right things to wear.

I can live without the red dress. It wasn’t the perfect shade for me, it needed adjustments, and finding a seamstress is not a priority for me now.

And: baby is calling for mam mam ma! I must go.