100 Thing Challenge Musings

September 29, 2008

As everyone who knows me realizes, my husband Dave has embarked on a tactic to cut himself off from the madness of consumer culture.  He first mentioned this idea about a year and a half ago, and I rolled my eyes and said, “Uh, huh.  Sure honey.”   I mean, as a thoughtful person, I see that the draw of “stuff” and even the anesthetizing act purchasing stuff is not good.  I have more than I need, and often lament that I’m making more work for myself each time I buy a new toy for the children,  clothes, or more household items.  I feel stifled by the clutter that I’ve somehow managed to accumulate.  But this “100 Thing Challenge” seemed like a rather hair-brained idea, and I spent some time teasing him and saying, “Ooh, I hope I’m not one of the items you realize you can live without.”  (I’m not.  As it turns out, “living things” are excluded in his tally.  Whew!)

As time has passed, however, and he’s taken some pretty radical steps to cut down his personal possessions to 100 items, and now has even gotten some media attention as his idea has taken off among facebook friends and readers of his blog, I’m realizing he’s really serious.  And not only that, this little experiment IS making us really think about how we’re ordering our lives, and making us more intentional about pouring our energy and time into what really matters. And that IS counter-cultural, and rather bold, and surprisingly, it seems to really strike a chord with many people right now.  People are worn out from excessive consuming of goods, and people feel dissatisfied with having so much stuff encumbering their lives, and people want to buy less and live more and are shocked to discover that even with that attitude, they still struggle to not want to buy more.  Why?

I have to admit, the more you think about the consumer culture and the motivations behind all the consumption, the more intriguing it is.  Dave is onto something here.  And he’s come up with a practical experiment to limit his number of personal possessions, take a year off from getting more, and think about stuff and how it controls our lives.  And as skeptical as I was at first, I’m thinking it’s going to be an interesting experiment after all.  I may even take the “100 Thing Challenge” myself.

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