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Excess Thoughts

globeI’ve been going through… something. I’m having one of those soul-churning weeks, the ones where doubts and fears manifest as some sort of anxiety that is palpable, but that you can’t fully realize. It’s itchy, right beneath the skin, and you scratch and scratch until your body tells you, hey man – it’s not me; it’s in your head.

I blame Jen Hatmaker.

I’ve been reading 7 upon recommendation of a friend, and you guys. It’s a very powerful story. Whether or not you attend church or attend iHop, believe in God or believe in denim, it is a truly incredible story of an American living in excess. (That “living in excess” part feels a bit redundant, as I’ll venture to say most Americans reading this have Internet, which is a luxury in itself, yes?)

In 7, Jen seeks to come to terms with her own over-abundant life by conducting monthly experiments that trim the proverbial fat in many areas: clothes, spending, waste, food, possessions, media, stress. And if you’re curious which particular chapter was written for me, co-signed by two jam-packed closets and over fifty pairs of shoes?

Yes. The clothes one.

As I type this, there are mounds and mounds of unwashed laundry waiting to be sorted in our utility room. The fact that I even own mounds of clothing that I can procrastinate washing because there are more outfits to be worn kind of leaves a pit in my stomach. Especially after reading this excerpt Jen quoted from a book titled Consumed:

In this new epoch in which the needy are without income and the wealthy are without needs, radical inequality is simply assumed … Inequality leaves capitalism with a dilemma: the over-producing capitalist market must either grow or expire. If the poor cannot be enriched enough to become consumers, then grown-ups in the First World who are currently responsible for 60 percent of the world’s consumption, and with vast disposable income but few needs, will have to be enticed into shopping.

Holy moly yes.

And although I don’t count myself as someone with “vast disposable income,” I certainly consume as if I do. I’d venture to say that I’m not alone, most of us picking up a new dress for a special occasion here, an upgraded cutting board there. Owning more than three pairs of shoes is an abundance, but somewhere along the way we’ve been tricked into forgetting this.

I’m trying to chew this information, to sit quietly on it and ponder its purpose and place in my life. But in reality, I want to donate all of my clothes and shoes and accessories and wear the same dull, unadorned outfit daily. To reduce and appreciate and release the grips of consumerism in my life.

And maybe live in a yurt with a goat who provides us with sweaters and cheese.

Sure, a balance exists somewhere. But the trouble with balances is that they are tightropes – all too difficult to see from a hundred miles below. So until I find that balance, I’m going to let this information simmer with me, bubbling with ideas and thoughts and perspectives until – hopefully – it will overpower the mound of laundry on the floor, the overstuffed closets and toppling shoe piles.

And then maybe, truly, honestly, I’ll trade it all for a goat.

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