The Best “Thing” You Probably Already Have

There’s an old Depression-era saying, “Use it up, make it do, or do without”.

Americans aren’t used to that any more. There’s always something slightly more advanced, something better than what you already have. The siren song of new ‘n shiny is hard to resist. Distilling the problem to it’s essence will allow you to find out if you really need something else to upgrade.

Personal example: I’ve been looking for lawn mower baggers, or lawn sweepers, as my current mower is a mulch-only. However, in the barn, I have a broken  bagging lawn mower. If I take the time to fix the old one, there’s no need to upgrade. But first I have to fix it.

What am I trying to solve? I’d like to clear grass clippings off my yard, as well as have easy access to mulch or scratch for my chickens. I can solve this problem with a rake and some time, but that’s not nearly as fun as shopping.

Now, my own grandfather would say “The right tool for the right job,” and that is a maxim that is also true. There are absolutely repair projects that are nearly impossible without purchasing or getting ahold of the tool that you need.

When shopping for big(ger)-ticket items, ask 2 questions:

What problem am I really trying to solve?

and

Can I solve this problem with something I already have?

Owning more things comes with a cost, from maintenance and storage and consumables, or simply the mental overhead. Our brains are finite, and there is a capacity issue with having more Stuff. Shopping, comparing and searching for deals are additional costs on our attention.

If You Stop Looking…

If you stop looking, you won’t find it.

It’s so painfully obvious but I just can’t seem to learn this lesson. I have a hard time staying satisfied with what I have.

Really, I want for nothing; my ancestors would be ashamed. I live in the West; any food or entertainment need I have can be quickly satisfied. But I shop. I get fixed on something and just keep shopping.

I owned a giant luxury car for a time, and I miss it. The power, the comfort, the ‘solid’ feel of driving. The little inflated sense of pride that comes when unlocking the door or when passing someone with power to spare. (You’ll note I have a harder time recalling the 18 mpg, or the repair costs)

I want another one. I don’t need one. No one really needs such a thing. But I want it.

And I feed my own problem. Not just feed; the entire issues is completely self-created. You won’t find great deals if you’re not looking. Craigslist doesn’t come to me, I go to Craigslist. If I don’t seek it out, I remove any and all turmoil. There’s no panic of  ‘There it is! How can I make this work?!’

Yet the most obvious lessons that don’t seem to stick.

Found myself a luxobarge, not far away, with the interior color I dream of. To what end?

Life must be lived intentionally, with focus. “Does this purchase get me closer to my goals?”

How much is Enough?

Consumer Nation

I think in this day and age, we have significantly become consumers. I think of a good friend’s blog that features his top tv shows and albums every year. And that’s most of what is written about. “Here’s what I saw!”

The proliferation of social media has led us to showing off just how amazing we are as consumers. Here’s a picture of what I ate! Look at what I just bought ! Here’s an unboxing video! (For goodness sake)

My issue is not denigrating the absolutely unbelievable bounty that surrounds us in 21st century western civilizatoin. I love the incredible things that surround us. But I want to make something. I don’t want to just take in what someone else has done and simply repackage my thoughts on it. As if that adds significantly to it. I can relate in a small way to some artists who denigrate critics. “Why don’t they go write a book/record an album/make a tv show”.

I have read that being a writer is a mental illness, that people who are true writers or real writers HAVE to write, they can’t not write. I am not a Real Writer.

The very best blogs and sites that I return to are those that are focused on a single topic, not the scattershot whatever is on the author’s mind.

This will not be the best blog.

I just want to make something. That includes music, that includes chronicling car things, and so on. It will include linking to others and commenting, thereby revealing my own hypocrisy.

If what I make is only a memory box, than that a least something.