Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What if we stopped pouring our cash into the giant pool of money?

What if we stopped buying all that stuff? Do we really need it? Does it improve our quality of lives so very much? Take a journey with me for just a moment.

Imagine that you are ninety-five years old. You're sitting at your dining room table, having a cup of tea and a biscuit. What matters to you right now? Look around you. What's in this room with you? Who is in this room with you?

Are you surrounded by beautiful things? Do you enjoy dusting them? Do you enjoy looking at them, touching them, feeling them? How did you acquire them? How costly were they? What did you give up to get them?

Are you surrounded by people you love who love you? Are they speaking to you as if you are intelligent and have something to contribute? Your body isn't what it used to be: Are the people with you conscious of your needs and loving in assuring they're met?

Can you see trees, perhaps a mountain or the ocean from your window? Can you see a river or a lake or pond? Is there a nourishing garden for body and soul nearby? Do you still love the scent of a tomato picked from the vine?

When you look back on your life, what do you remember that gladdens your heart? What do you tell your great-grandchildren, perhaps your great-great-grandchildren, you are glad you did? How many of those moments are big ones and how many are what many might consider small?

What do you wish you had done with your time and your money twenty years ago, when you were seventy-five? Forty years ago at fifty-five? What choices do you wish you had made when you were younger? How much time do you wish you had spent at Target, WalMart, and the mall? How much money you spent in those places do you wish you had spent differently? How do you wish you had used those dollars?

Ask everyone in the room to leave. Turn and speak to your younger self, the self sitting in the chair reading this right now. Tell yourself what you wish you done differently with your life, the daily choices you wish you had made, the things you wish you had done with your money.

Start doing them right now.

Then come back here and tell me what you saw, what you felt, what you want to change about the way you use money.


  1. what a great exercise! I've been working on this through a similar process - but not as detailed - for a couple of years now.

    I try to make it an absolute rule to never buy something the first time I see it, but to wait and return "if it matters."

    Man, is THAT a tough discipline to enforce! At least for me....

  2. Have you seen this: http://www.storyofstuff.com/

    I think you'll like it!

  3. Nice visualization. I like the name, Village of Ordinary. I like it a lot!

    I am at a crossroads now... questioning every single aspect of my lifestyle (I have inherited the North American Consumerist DNA strand, lucky me!)...

    my future self, though she isn't necessarily aged, says to my current self "go, child, run, run with the wind, follow your heart to the beautiful villages and ocean sides and trust that your dreams will be fulfilled. You do not need to struggle so much to juice every flavor you desire out of life. It is all so simple, what you really need can be found in a droplet of pure ocean water. Trust your heart and your own vision, and take a leap into the unknown experience of your own rhythm and its synchronicity with the real calender of the majestic mystery of mother earth and the greater cosmos. go. GO! Don't waste any more time!'

    My rational mind is not very happy about this answer...sitting here and analyzing how technically, you can't waste time, analyzing the details, pros and cons of every eco-village that pops up onto my Google search screen as though I'm some kind of.... consumer.

    I know, we can manifest whatever we want without needing so much "money". But obviously, I don't really know. Why am I stuck in this gunky, confusing place? Why does part of me still feel I need a university degree in order to be a capable research scientist?

  4. Nice post! :-)

    Being born in Africa you learn quickly about doing without. I grew up in Rhodesia during sanctions. We had no chocolate bars and yet my childhood was quite happy. ;-)

    In South Africa everything gets recycled because the garbage is owned by the homeless the moment you put it out in your yard. We always put things out properly, to save them hassle. WE'd have all paper together for the guy who collected paper. All decent food leftrovers we'd freeze in containers - to be taken away. Any clothing or items that could be re-used would be kept seperate too. We kept one family going on our garbage! It's a humbling thought...

  5. Thank you Hayden, Carrie, Erica and Michelle for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments.

    Hayden, do you find you don't need most items once you've stepped away? We also tend to postpone a purchase in our household and rarely return for a second look. There are few things I regret NOT having bought (those few I regret strongly, however).

    Carrie, yes I have seen the
    Story of Stuff vid, and thank you for pointing me to it again. It's worthy of its own post, so stay tuned.

    Erica, love your questions and questioning mind. I've done a little research on ecovillages and cohousing communities. If you're looking for resources, check out my Sustainable Communities Squidoo lens for a sampling of sites and resources. Wishing you much joy in the exploration and journey toward building a satisfying life.

    Michelle, it's always such a pleasure to hear from you. Your wisdom and insight never fail to inspire me. One of the things I love about living in a city is that one person's discards almost always find a home in another's life. Thank you for sharing your family's thoughtful and loving recycling method.

    Many blessings to you all.


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