One month post-shopping fast and I have been reflecting on what I learned, how I’ve changed and what I want to do differently in the future.
I made my first purchase just a few days ago.
Initially I thought on January 1st I would be rushing out to buy something, anything after all that time not being able to. But I didn’t. I even walked around Target during one of my grocery shopping trips with this sense of – I can buy something if I want to – but could not find anything I felt was worth breaking twelve months of fasting. There wasn’t anything I needed. Christmas had just happened and I received some very nice gifts from family and friends and I felt no burning desire to jump back in to the wide world of consumerism. And so I went through most of the month without making a purchase. I guess I wanted my first post-fast purchase to be something deeply meaningful!
I did not buy a new couch. I think I have just stopped seeing the rips, and tears my cats continue to improve upon. I didn’t even buy a new phone case even though I almost lost my credit cards and license on the regular with my old one.
Everything just seemed like enough for now.
That was likely the most enduring lesson of my fast. I have enough. I always have, of course had enough, even before this past year. However, the fast allowed me to see this more clearly or to understand better.
Not buying anything for a year forced the evaluation of what I already had – enough.
Enough clothes – more than enough. I cleaned out my closest and donated a bunch.
Enough electronics. I did not need the latest phone or i-pad or whatever seemed essential (read new and cool) at any given moment. Taking the time to translate a want, to understand it as such and not a need, saved me a lot of money.
Enough knick-knacks. So much more than enough. I like to think I am not someone who buys things mindlessly but in those early months the number of times I was tempted by a cute framed saying or a small piece of furniture to fill a – gasp – empty space in my home are, looking back, embarrassingly numerous. Why the impulse? These things had no meaning to me. And would after day two blend into the woodwork of my home. And yet I had to train myself to stop looking for things I didn’t need, to stop clicking on those Facebook ads that are eerily accurate about what I am tempted by. To stop going down those Target aisles after I have bought my groceries, the aisles with all the things I don’t need but somehow still want. But by month 4 or 5 I had learned and the temptation waned considerably. So much so in fact that by January when I could buy something I could not think of something I wanted. Mostly because, of course, I did not need anything. Now lest you think I have learned too much, rest assured I am still in need of much reform. I did finally settle on my first purchase. A t-shirt which, obviously I do not need, but which has a slogan on it that I found inspiring. And then I did break down and buy a new phone case a few days ago (February 1stI think) because really I was going to lose my license out of that old one.
Now as I consider my new “freedom” to buy in 2019 I am thinking about the different ways I want to change my consumerism. Buying less is an obvious way and this now feels natural. As I lean in to that I also feel I will be able to understand better where the things I purchase come from. This has always been important to me, but it will be a much more realistic prospect as I will have far fewer things to research.
So, I leave my fasting behind, but my consumption habits are changed, I hope, for good (in both senses of the word). Of course, lasting change can only be discerned after time has passed.
I’ll keep you posted.