My wife doesn’t even ask me what I want for my birthday anymore. She knows. It’s always the same answer: time.
I don’t want neckties, speed boats, or convertibles. I want time. Of course, she can’t give me more time, but she can give me time with her, time with the family, more time doing what we like to do and less time doing what we don’t like to do. This doesn’t only mean time on vacation, but enjoying the time we have as often as we can.
As I wrote about tea from Paris the other day, I realized that not only did I not want souvenirs from other places (other than food, drink, consumables), I didn’t want souvenir “stuff” from anywhere. It’s the simplest of the minimalist lifestyle: getting rid of your stuff. It’s not difficult for me as I’m not much of a consumer. I don’t really like buying and obtaining and collecting stuff … with some exceptions.
Do You Want What You Have?
I get it: don’t buy a bunch of stuff you don’t want or need. Great, minimalism, love it. But what about what you do have, what you already have. What about what you need? The necessities? Did you know that you could actually enjoy them?
I love tea. I love glassware. I love glassware for my tea. Here’s where I differ from my strategies on creation, writing and business. In those fields, I tend to choose, “Just do it for a while and see where it leads you.” With consumerism, that would mean I would buy a bunch of tea mugs and see which ones I like and use those. What to do with the others? Goodwill. OK, fine, recycling, reusing, but why start the cycle?
If 10 seconds of your day is improved, does it count? Yes.
Back to time. With the time we do have, how could we make the smallest things, the little moments, better? I drink tea every day. Work, weekend, anytime, all the time. I really enjoy beautiful design, but I often just can’t afford it. I think double-walled glassware is just gorgeous. I appreciate how hard it must be to create, I have a vision of those glassblowers at the fair. But they’re expensive.
I found some tea/coffee mugs at the shop by Bodum. They’re a work of art. Double walled so you see the liquid sitting in the inner layer of glass, there’s a layer of emptiness in between, then the outer layer. But they were expensive, something like $12 each. Ouch, for a tea cup? But if I weighed how much I would enjoy that single cup as compared to zero (or less than zero) enjoyment I’d get from a regular mug, the balance might weigh out in favor of getting the mug.
I bought the mugs a few years ago now. To this day, I admire them. I take a sip and spend a few seconds admiring the way the tea sits in the glass. I suppose it’s like looking at the bottom of a boat from underwater–where I still have something of a boyhood fascination. I don’t always use those mugs, but when I do, I enjoy them. I appreciate what I already have. I’ll use it until it breaks … they’re kinda delicate.
I’m trying to buy one quality item in place of several. It’s not always only cost. Sometimes the quality item that lasts is the same price or cheaper. Sometimes it’s uglier. But it’s a balance. How much can you weigh the enjoyment of it versus a similar object that you wouldn’t enjoy as much? Is it worth it? The answer is up to you, but it’s worth thinking about.
Those few seconds that I stare into my cup of tea and admire of it are worth it. To me they are. What’s worth it for you?