commercialism

Seven Years in Tibet (or Six Weeks in Wrigley)

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I should start off by saying I haven’t seen the movie or read the book Seven Years in Tibet. It was just a joke my husband and I made the evening I got back from up North. Six weeks in Wrigley felt like six years in Tibet! In total, I have been away from home for nine weeks, and it felt so weird to be back.

My home felt like a hotel I visit once in a while — comfortable, but not familiar. It was amazing to see Darren again — I burst into tears when we first hugged! I’m not one to cry easily, so I was kind of surprised by that, but I just let it happen. I think I was just tired from the drive and had been “keeping it together” for several hours, including about an hour of bad driving, in snow and poor visibility. It was also amazing to see my sweet, fluffy cat again… but it seemed he didn’t remember me! That just added to my feelings of living in a hotel on my way to somewhere else.

The “somewhere else” I’m headed is home — to yet another one — for Christmas. How many homes do I have? I had been joking with people that I had three homes: one in High Level, one in Fort Simpson, and one in Wrigley. Now, the original home felt less like home and the least likely one, the most homey. Home-ish. Like a home. High Level just felt like a place, and when I was first driving the streets, a thought popped into my head: my heart just isn’t here any more. Strange thing to pop into one’s head minutes before arriving home after two months away.

So where is my heart, and is it true “home is where the heart is?” Or is that just a shallow cliché? I think for me, home is where I feel comfortable, safe, and where I stash my yarn. Home is where my sweet pet greets me and I can put my feet up and take a load off. Perhaps it’s no wonder then that this didn’t feel like home quite yet, again, whatever. I have been traveling, but in my wandering, I have found and made other homes… because they felt right. They felt peaceful. This place could be peaceful too, but the bustle and materialism of Christmas is trying to cut its way in.

Tiny crescent moon over the Camsell rangeLiving in Wrigley was so simple. Life had been distilled down to the basics: eat, sleep, talk with friends, work, go for walks. For a full four weeks, I was almost completely untouched and unconnected with the outside world. I knew there would be some adjustments when I came South, but I didn’t think that not feeling “at home” at home would be one of them. I thought that traffic, busyness, so many other people and errands would be most challenging, and they are. I survived a short shopping spree (an errand for a friend) but wasn’t very comfortable doing it. Having been away from stores for so long — somehow, the Northern Store doesn’t count — commercialism is like a sour taste in my mouth. I have connected with spruce trees, felt the energy of the pines… sales and gift-buying is like milk gone bad — nauseating and repugnant.

I feel like I vehemently don’t want to buy anything, yet the reality is, I need some things — new wooly socks, for example. I have decided that as much as possible, I’d like to get the things I need from second-hand stores, so most of my shopping will have to wait for Edmonton. I wonder how I will adjust to that particular craziness? I have already decided I will need to go for a long walk each day, preferably in the river valley… then I think I will be okay.

It’s been over 24 hours now, and I am feeling more at home. A nice long walk cleared my mind after the shopping trip. I plugged in my electric piano and played some songs, something I haven’t done in ages. I rummaged through some old boxes, looking for music, and came across some mementos. I drank hot lemon and watered the plants. Darren was out of the house all day, having been called away on a top-priority job; I had a long lunch with a friend and visited another friend after supper. Darren is home, and Eddie (my cat) seems to purr quicker when I pet him. Now that I am writing, I feel even better — I think my “seven years in Tibet” have shown me that I need to write (and walk) to feel like myself. Perhaps that’s another key to “where home is” for me. Life could be good here… That’s the next big decision I have to make, but not today.

Mackenzie Highway

Catch and Release

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I joined BookCrossing the other day! My sweetheart had told me about theimages idea of “catch and release” for books, and it intrigued me, so I finally got around to looking into it. The idea is to give books away by leaving them in public places, with a little explanation inside. Then, if the person who finds the book wants to, he/she can register the book online so that the original owner can track where the book has been. Theoretically, books can travel around the planet this way, with many owners enjoying them. I think it’s a great idea — imagine being bored to death in a doctor’s office waiting room and then finding a neat book to read, left there by someone who also liked the book and wanted to relieve the boredom! Although you can also release books you don’t like, and that you realize you’re never going to read (or finish) but that someone else might like.  :)

You know what else I like about this idea? It is the exact opposite of hoarding. You give things away, even things you like, instead of keeping things (even things you don’t like). I have a friend with an extreme hoarding problem. I love him dearly, but he has piles of old newspapers around his house, that had an interesting article in them that he was going to clip one day. Piles of old magazines… I’m not sure what he planned to do with them, or if they just never made their way to the blue bin for recycling. He keeps everything, and his house is overrun with clutter. I also have “keeper” tendencies, but I realized that if I don’t keep them in check, my house would look like his, so I’ve been trying to get rid of things and give them away whenever possible. There are a few ways that I am doing that!

watercolour1. I won’t let myself take on anything new without getting rid of something old. For example, I have about 5 hobbies. I won’t take on any more — I am rather interested in stained glass — until I give one up. Some, like watercolour painting, don’t take up much space, but others, like sewing, do.

2. This also applies to clothing: if I want to buy a new sweater, for example, I have to think of one that I will give away at home. I’ve decided I have enough clothes (and could probably get rid of some) and don’t want to start collecting stuff I never wear!

3. I don’t go to the dollar store. I used to. But I found I was buying little stuff all the time, stuff I didn’t really need (often hobby-related), and it was adding to the clutter. Most of it’s such poor quality, it breaks in 5 minutes anyways! So I am opting to buy better quality items — everything from duct tape to candles — that I’ll be happier with in the long run. Steve Pavlina’s post on buying quality items instead of cheaping out made me think too.

4. In a similar vein, I don’t go to the drug store unless I absolutely need something I can’t get anywhere else. I found I was going out of boredom, or thinking “I should try a different shampoo” and leaving with $50 of products I didn’t need. I am still using up those products until they are gone, and I won’t buy anything new until I am completely out. And I won’t step into a drug store without a list. Maybe the drug store’s not a problem for you, but it was for me. But not any more!

This reminds me of a book a friend told me about once, Not Buying It by Judith Levine. (And I just gave you a link to Amazon.ca. Sigh.) Anyways, Judith Levine decides to go a year without buying anything non-essential — food being essential, dining out, not. It’s an interesting life experiment… I think I will have to buy it and read it. No, no, I should get it from the library! Or maybe I can find it on BookCrossing!  :)

logoI’m also going to start up a local chapter of Freecycle. It’s an organization that allows people to post when they have something they don’t need and would like to give away. People can also post if they need something. I’m thinking of using it instead of having a garage sale. Garage (or yard) sales are so much work, and we don’t have that much stuff to get rid of, so I’ll give it a go! I think that giving things away, clearing out old stuff, makes room for new things in life! I mean, unless something is truly unique and irreplaceable, why hang on to it “in case I need it?”  :) Non-physical things seem to work the same way — getting rid of resentment makes room for happier feelings, for example. So if I want something new, I need to get rid of some things to make room for it first. I think I have a little work to do!

Have a great day, everybody!