The gist of Don Bruno’s story is that he pared down his belongings to under 100 items and lived that way for a year. With some caveats. His books were counted as one thing, his “library,” but clothing items like jackets or slacks were listed individually. Furniture, such as the bed he shared with his wife, everything in the kitchen, the TV his family watched and so on, were exempt since they weren’t his personal items. At least 25% of what he retained was sports equipment for camping, surfing, fishing, and so on.
More than simplifying his life, Bruno’s goal was to stop himself from heading to the mall to buy stuff. He wanted to get over the idea that a new possession could make his life happier. During the year he succeeded in suppressing his consumer gene.
It was an interesting experiment and he feels it made a permanent difference. But I don’t think it’s where most of us are at. I stopped in at an antiques show in Port Jefferson village on Saturday and didn’t see anything I had to have, though there were some things I own or used to own. There was nothing I saw that promised to make my home or my life more interesting--especially not at the prices they were hoping get!
I don’t think I’m unique. A lot of people I know tell me they hate shopping and I believe them. And yet . . And yet. I bet every one of us has way more than 100 things. While we were sleeping, stuff crept in on little cat’s feet, books gave birth to other books, gifts were left on our door step. We adopted family members’ belongings when they passed away. We accumulated plate by plate and sweater by sweater, without giving the same amount away.
So what would be a good challenge for people like us? It seems to me that Don Bruno spent a lot of time cataloging everything he owned, deciding what he could most live without, and then selling it or giving it away. Most of us don’t have that much time or inclination.
But I’d like to find a challenge that would inspire everybody. I’m sure you have some great ideas.