The Stress Of Possessions
Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants. – Epictetus
I bought a new car yesterday.
This is a BFD because I drive my cars until they crumble around me.
I’ve been driving a 1994 Accord since 1997. (Those babies go forever.) By the end of our relationship, the bumper was held on with tape and it was in the throes of a two-year death rattle. Most of my friends had experienced some sort of breakdown adventure with me.
But I drove my jalopy with pride. It was my badge of anti-consumerism. (Plus, no car payment. I loved that.)
OK, I was a little embarrassed valet parking it at the Ritz-Carlton the other day, where I went for a business lunch, but at least when they brought it to me, the side with the taped-on bumper was facing away from the crowd.
But otherwise, I don’t need no fancypants car.
I’m not a particularly high-wants person when it comes to possessions. I’m greedy about experiences, but ho-hum about stuff.
Actually, the only time I really want is while shopping. Shopping malls are vortexes of desire, filled with lovely things that would change my life not at all, but that I can hardly imagine life without, at the moment.
And in moments of weakness I leaf through the catalogs that pile up on the kitchen counter this time of year and pick out things I want, seriously considering buying each and every one before (usually) coming to my senses.
At those times, I feel terribly, horribly deprived. Poor and scruffy. I can’t possible afford all the things I want and will never earn enough—because of course, once you start wanting stuff, it’s hard to stop.
I feel so much better about life when I don’t want anything, when I avoid malls, when catalogs go straight from the mailbox to the recycle bin.
But sometimes, you just gotta nut up and do what you gotta do. And I gotta have a car that starts every time I turn the key. I decided to buy a new car because as long as I’m going to drive my cars into the ground, I might as well get them when they’re young. (I’m50coughcough years old and this will be my first new car.)
So last night, I skulked off the dealership lot with a shiny, spankin’-new car.
I’m going to chalk this one up to “need” rather than “want” because I live in a driving city.
Even so, I’m going to feel less wealthy with my brand-new car. (Several hundred dollars a month less wealthy, plus collision insurance.) I’ll worry about it getting its first ding or scratch. People might want to steal it or break into it–something I never worried about with my old car.
And I have to readjust my self perception from someone who drives a beater (smugly) to someone who drives a shiny new car (sheepishly).
This new car will be fun, and it will feel like a burden. (Yeah, yeah. First-world problem.)
For me, the wealth of having few possessions is much less stressful than the wealth of having many.
Dembling, S. (2012). The Stress Of Possessions. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 21, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/quotes/2012/11/the-stress-of-possessions/