Yesterday, I was lured to a nearby shop* when I heard about a post-christmas sale that promised an additional 40% off all previously marked down merchandise. This is a shop that already has very good deals on good quality ready to wear type stuff. I knew I’d find nice things for cheap.
I spent some time sorting through the crowded racks of clothing, finding an armload of good deals. The store was crowded, and I had to squeeze through the aisles, past women trying on clothes right there between the racks because the line for the dressing room was so long. When I touched some dresses that had been piled up on top of one of the racks, a woman snapped at me from across the store, “That’s mine!”
I looked down at the few cute cardigans, dresses, and shirts I was carrying. On top was a soft t-shirt with a little silk bow detail that I could easily render myself. The label said, “made in china.”
I thought, wow. I really don’t need any of this stuff. I thought about all the room it would take up in my closet. How I would wear it for a while and like it, but eventually it would end up in a pile somewhere to be resold or donated. How it was cheap, but meant nothing to me. How wasteful it was. How much I’d rather be out taking pictures, or home sewing or drawing or making something than here in this store. So I put it all back.
I walked home from the shop and I guess it was trash day, because all along the street were the remainders of christmas. There were recycling bins brimming with cardboard boxes and wrapping paper and packaging material.
Everybody wants things, and I don’t believe there’s anything essentially wrong with that. The trick is to discern which things you’ll really cherish, and which are meaningless filler in our lives. For me, this is a lesson I’m always relearning.
* not the shop pictured above, which is a wonderful vintage store in Oakland called Recapture.