If someone showed up at the door and said that I could never watch another TV show and that they had come for the set I would say sure--though I like to watch films on DVD and might try to negotiate to keep those. But I could promise never to buy another pair of dress shoes or piece of jewelry or set of attractive plates or box of Godiva chocolates. In fact, any future birthday or Christmas gifts could be donations to charities instead.
Of course, there are things I could gladly give up, the ones that fall within the category of “Thou Shalt Nots,” that my son, Andy, thought up the other day when we were discussing empty promises:
"Thou shalt not get a root canal."
"Thou shalt not sit through timeshare presentations."
"Thou shalt not attend Rod McKuen poetry readings.”
And so on. On the next level are things that I wouldn’t want to give up, but I could if I had to: drinking wine, taking photographs, going to art museums, eating cupcakes (rare, but I like to keep my options open). I could skip ever buying another car, or book as long as there are libraries, and promise never to paint another picture or play Freecell Solitaire.
Unfortunately I’m still as all over the place as a nervous monkey. And the sticking points are odd. In my basement studio I have a carton of ephemera, everything from a World War II ration card to old Simplicity patterns and 1890 newspaper clippings, all saved for “collage” purposes--along with the Somerset magazines that will inspire me to do it. How long has it been since I’ve made a collage? Yet giving these away would feel like a loss, as much as selling my antique postcard collection.
I also can’t promise not to work on my garden, travel, read and write fiction, blog, create Christmas cards, make birdhouses, sell on eBay, eat in restaurants, give workshops, and entertain friends. I lean toward minimalism where stuff is concerned, but I’m an experience junkie.
Until I get that habit under control, I know I won’t amount to anything. The old “life-glimpsed-through-a-single window” debate still rages. More about that another time.