Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Simple Suggestion #117... Think long-term

Last week, my eldest daughter had her sitting for graduation photos. Outside the room where the photographer set up her portable studio sat a man selling class rings... and I was reminded of one of my life's little follies:

I really had to look for the thing when we got home. I couldn't even remember what it looked like, and wondered at the fact that I ever bought one. What was I thinking?? Well, all my friends were getting them (we had after school jobs, and therefore, a bit of disposable income that we probably should have saved for university tuition), so I got one, too, the cheapest kind in sterling silver because gold was $500 an ounce, don't you know!

I can't even tell you how long I wore the ring. Through my first year of university, perhaps? Or even that long? After which, it was relegated to a little slot in an old jewelry box and pretty much forgotten, until I saw the class ring guy last week. My daughter, wise girl that she is, said after we left the man, "what on earth would anyone want a class ring for?" And I wished I had been as smart as she. I didn't really buy mine out of sentimentality, because I certainly wasn't sentimental about my old school, teachers, or very many of my 250 classmates. I've been to a couple of high school reunions, just out of curiosity, and realized that the people who meant the most to me from those teen years were not the school classmates of whom a ring could remind me, but the friends from various youth groups in which I was involved. I bought my class ring because everyone else was doing it, never giving a thought to the fact that in the future, I'd wonder why I had spent the money on something so... well, so "not me." I've never been big on jewelry.

Fortunately, the ring is one of the few items in my life that fall into those "frivolous-spending-because-everyone-is-doing-it" or "I've-got-the-money-for-a-status-symbol" categories. Most of the things in my life now have their reason and purpose, and since embracing Voluntary Simplicity, I've become much better at thinking in the long-term, asking myself as I consider a purchase, "in ten year's time, will this really matter? Is this a good investment, or a whim? Will I really make use of this item, or is it something that will collect dust and make life more complicated rather than simpler?" Because, facing facts, if my class ring means so little to me, it's not an heirloom to be passed down to future generations... it's just clutter that will have to be reabsorbed by our overtaxed planet someday... and it already cost our planet enough in mining, smelting, creating, processing and delivery. If every person on the earth had such a ring, what would our environment look like? Would we even have one?

Thinking long-term is something we all need to do daily, for the sake of the earth and its future generations. I have a little reflection book for this season of Lent, and one of the things that recently struck me in its writings was a little story about a woman whose husband was a collector of things while she collected "empty spaces." I'm convinced that if we think long-term -- ten, twenty, or fifty years from now, we'll be much happier with the empty spaces we've collected than with anything else we can accumulate and will someday have to shed. Like class rings, and much bigger things.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? Try here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Take a minute and tell me what you think...