Friday, February 22, 2008

Both Sides Now

Is it the economy, the time of year, the time of man? Or is it just coincidence that a number of posts have cropped up over the last few days examining the role of fiscal restraint and it's sassy counterpart, careful acquisition? Two of these posts (specifically) have really got me thinking.

The first, by Dreamecho, is a beautiful memoir of adolescence, the relative poverty that often goes along with it and the lust that often goes with wanting things one can't afford. Dreamecho details her clever strategy for purchasing only the most desirable of an everpresent list of must-haves.

This sentiment is eerily echoed by Enc of ObservationMode, a woman at a different stage of life who finds herself, similarly, making lists of desirable objects in an attempt to bring consciousness to her shopping and spending habits.

Two worthy pieces, to be sure.

Both of these women bring global resonance to personal choice in intimating that, when one spends unconsciously, one diminishes the quality of the act itself (nevermind the fallout associated with unnecessary acquisition).

Contrast this with me, a usually restrained character who's been on a buying spree lately the likes of which might put Posh Spice in her place (ok, not really, but I'm using drama for effect...) I'm inclined to believe that, if everything new is a rebound consequence, I'm on the flipside of Enc and Dreamecho's metaphoric coin.

I mean, I've started hitting the high-street stores - really not my scene - and I'm not exactly hating it... To wit: Today I did some window shopping over the lunch hour at Zara. Dear Reader: If my fantasies took Visa, the creditors would now be at my door. I didn't purchase, restraint mechanism did kick in, but I could have bought 7 things that looked great (IMO) and were interesting and rather well-made (esp. for disposable clothing) that, let's face it, would have cost less than one pricey pair of pants. Scarily, this exhilarated me. Concerned me gravely, for sure, but in an excited way. I sense that, somehow, I am not on the road to high ideals here.

The yogic concept of bramacharya is apt as relates to this subject, in that it prescribes conscious constraint. The sanskrit term, which generally refers to celibacy, can be broadly applied to any act of mindful continence. By their action (or inaction) my blogger comrades are admirably practicing the purest form of yoga, go figure. Each unspent dollar, another exhale in the breath of their careful repose. I, on the other hand, am about to join a support group. Just one more a-line jacket and I'm there. I promise. Really. For true.


  1. I am SO far from bramacharya, but have been trying lately to be more conscious, less impulsive, in my purchases. This is difficult, as I have purchased a house, a car, and countless other items without a moment's consideration in the past.

  2. I so hear you IHF. At a certain point in life, one gets on the treadmill of spending (the house, the car, the daycare, the vacations) and it can become almost reflexive. Just at the moment, I think what makes my shopping vaguely different is that I'm very excited about fashion and by what I purchase - I didn't really emphasize this in my post. I went through a very long uninspired phase which has, in the past year or so, lifted. Still, it's important for me to remember that having things can be complicated :-) K

  3. I like what you wrote here; I think it's great that you're on the other side of the coin. I wish I could feel your esprit for shopping! I vote you enjoy it . . . be true to yourself, and get whatever you want. Not everyone needs to be restrictive like me. I enjoy depriving myself of things sometimes, so there's a bit of perverse martyrdom going on at my house.

    Why should you subject yourself to that? You are clearly thinking about what you're doing as you shop/buy. And anyway, you can always return things if you suffer a case of buyer's remorse, right?

    (Thanks for the mention!)

  4. I think everyone should carefully save up their money until they are ready to impulsively spend every red cent on WendyB jewelry. I might be biased though.

  5. I agree with WendyB - But you have to give those baubles the respect they deserve by inserting some McQueen into your basic wardrobe! K

  6. well, if you're not going to put posh spice in her place, then we've got to find someone else to do it...

    this post was wonderfully written. i don't think there's anything wrong with h&m for a little impromptu purchase-making session. shopping is supposed to be fun!

    my favorite paragraph was probably the last one; you hit the nail on the head when you drew an analogy with mindfulness, meditation and discipline. these are all things i highly value and strive to apply to all aspects of my life.

    would you like to exchange links? you seem so wonderfully witty, smart and stylish, and that really shows through on your blog.

  7. Dreamecho - I'm so glad you read (and liked) my post because it was really inspired by that gorgeous piece on your blog.

    I would LOVE to exchange links. I've just added yours to my blogroll. Thanks so much for suggesting this!