Monday, 19 July 2010

22. Less is More

I turned down a Blackberry today (no, not the fruit, the phone). I've coveted after a Blackberry for at least two years; today I finally had the chance to get one and, to my own surprise, I said no. What was I thinking?!

I was left slightly flabbergasted by my own snap decision. But, the truth is, I don't actually want to be contactable 24/7 by email, text or phone call. Sometimes, I might want to be "unreachable". If I got the latest all-singing and all-dancing mobile phone, I would be contactable almost wherever I am. I'd never get any peace, even when going for a quiet walk with my girl.

Besides, any object that seems to be "that good" never really is. (As an aside, I remember when I bought my first Playstation when I was 18 years old: it cost a bloody fortune but I was determined to get it because it was the must-have gadget of the year...only not long after that the price started to drop and I realised I could have waited until it was cheaper, the games were more expensive than I could afford at the time so I was stuck playing the demo for months, I didn't play on it for 10 years and, finally, it only sold for a fiver in a carboot sale. Was it really worth it?!).

To be fair, it's not just my like for gadgets that has gotten me into trouble with the bank, it's also the clever advertising that seducts you in every way possible. "You need this item", it tells you. You see, when you have money, there is always the need to spend it on something. Anything.  That "anything" is, we are told, the thing that will make us happy...until it breaks, of course, or we decide that something else will make us happy instead.

Being a bit of a gadget-geek, I've come up with a clever plan to keep my spending in check: to test whether or not I really really want something I make myself wait for at least 6 months, if I still want it after that then it's worth getting (and it will be cheaper by then too) but, most of the time, I discover that it was merely a desire for something that I had no real need for.

So, I've decided to try to practise a little contentment with the things that I already own. I actually want to make do. I don't want to waste what little resources I have and I don't want to be told that my two-year old laptop is "obsolete" and too slow (note, this is usually by manufacturers who would conveniently make a bob or two from selling me the latest "dream machine"). I'm actually quite happy with my laptop, slow or not.

Venerable Cheng Yen said: "Happiness does not come from having much, but from being attached to little." And I ask myself on a daily basis: how many things that I am attached to will fall apart or sell for a fiver in a few years time? If I wasn't so attached to these things, would it matter to me if I owned them at all? There are more important things in life than the latest gadget.

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