May 11, 2006

Why Did You Buy That?!?

My wife came home from work today (I guess, since my office is in my house, I qualify as a "stay-at-home dad"), with items from the store. Among them, Nanny McPhee on DVD. Now, I might enjoy Nanny McPhee; who knows? But I got mad at her for buying it.

You see, if I have any obsessions, it has got to be trying to live with less stuff. Life is complicated enough, and I want to simplify it. If I could live in a little one-room cabin, I would---except it's kind of hard to raise a family in such a place.

Last fall, when we went from being a two-car family to a one-car family, my wife looked upon it as tragic. I, on the other hand, thought to myself, "This could be fun." Eight months later, I still think that. If I have a meeting in Sacramento, I take the bus. Figuring out the bus schedule and finding $3 for the 25-mile ride is a lot less complicated and anxiety-inducing than worrying about an extra set of car payments, insurance payments, registration, maintenance, depreciation---not to mention high fuel costs. And besides, now I get to relax & read on my way to Sacramento, rather than worry about dodging gravel being flung into my windshield by semis.

And when the cupboards are starting to get bare, I like to see how long I can make it before going to the store. I don't take this one too far; if that never-opened can of beets is the only thing left, I don't smile and say, "let's have beets for dinner!" But sometimes it's kind of fun to see how creative one can get with what's left in the cupboard & fridge. (Besides, that can of beets should be saved for when the Big One hits, and we're all on our own for 3 or 4 days.)

My wife doesn't like playing my little "game." I need to understand that. I'm trying, really I am. Maybe someday I'll get there. But in the meantime, when my kids sit down to watch Nanny McPhee for the second, third, or fourth time, I'll just retreat to the back of the house with a cup of green tea, and read some Thomas Merton.

P.S. A woman named Jennifer is playing this same "game" while planning her wedding. What an inspiration! You can read about it on her blog, which she says isn't really a "blog," but it looks like a blog to me.


julie said...

I play the same game, although it's less impressive to be doing so as a grad student. It's so much less stress on me to walk or take the bus than to worry about a vehicle, check books out of the library instead of buying them, and use up most of my food before going grocery shopping.

The downside of the game for me, though, is wandering into a friend's home and thinking 'wow, I'm glad that I'm so spiritually evolved that I don't need [insert thing] to make me happy,' when my more meager lifestyle is much more a product of means and personality than of excessive holiness.

jo(e) said...

I am always trying to simplify our lives. During May, when I am at home and my husband and kids are at work, I pile stuff in the car and take it to the Salvation Army. No one here even notices ....

Mrs. Knapp said...

How refreshing to know that we're not the only one's on the "Less is More" plan! We have a great sign (that was too expensive, yes, but needed to be posted in our home!) that reads, "Make do with what you've got." When I'm itching for an extravagant trip to the supermarket (because when you become a wife/mom, splurging at the supermarket actually DOES become a thrill!), I reflect on that sign and head back to the Ramen in the cupboard. Thanks, Danny for your honesty and openness. It's hard to believe that people with Orange County roots could ACUTALLY be content with less, huh? ;-)