My ‘protected wants’
I developed and completed this exercise about a year ago and it was meant to stop me lusting after things. Because where temptation is concerned I am like Oscar Wilde who famously said that he ‘…can resist anything but temptation’. If succumbing is inevitable the only way to resist it is to eliminate temptation. Eliminating temptation is largely about lifting prohibitions and taboos – things that are accessible and allowed are generally less alluring that the ones that are forbidden. So, the purpose of the exercise was to identify my core ‘wants’ and protect them, or allow myself to have them.
When I did this exercise for the first time I managed to pour on the paper over twenty things that I will take with me if I were told to leave my house never to return. Today I repeated the exercise. And what a surprise: I had a great problem getting beyond thirteen things that I’ll take with me. Today’s list is below and the five items that are most important to me are marked.
Change of clothes
Jewellery from my mother
Running shoes x
What does this all mean? It means that my ‘protected wants’ are around electronics (gadgets), books, cleanliness and running. These have not changed since the first time I did the exercise. I did allow myself to have these and interesting things happened. First, I have not bought any computers or other gadgets since the first time I did this exercise. Although the longing for an iPad sometimes sneaks in, it is easy to control. In fact instead of lusting after an iPad, I occasionally consider what I could use it for and fail to think of anything that I cannot do at the moment. Second, I still buy books but there is no compulsion – only considered purchases that I don’t regret and that don’t push my bank account in the red. Third, I still do my running and it has become one of the things that we as a family use to have short breaks away – I just have a very long run sometime during the break. Long distance running makes my soul surge and my face light up; but more about this some other time. And lastly, because cleanliness is so important for me (and for the rest of my family) last year we did our bathrooms really nicely; this makes such a difference to how I feel and how I see our house – it is so much more home.
What does the rest say? I am a practical dresser which also means that I shouldn’t buy any more evening gowns; if anything I should get rid of the ones I have. I like sensible, comfortable shoes in which I can walk; I should get rid of any pairs that do not fit this description bar one or two. I always thought that my weakness is for jewellery but it appears that jewellery is the vessel for my memories and stories. There are other vessels to be found. And of course anything that is not on the list doesn’t matter to me.
This exercise provided me with an insight into my ‘wants’ that made it possible to overcome temptation immediately. Controlling spending is not about stopping completely but it is about spending consciously, about making the decision to spend.
Not being able today to make a list of twenty things I want to take is telling me about an even more serious and pleasing change that I had no idea about. Once upon I time I was a person ‘to be’, then I became a person ‘to have’. It seems that Maria ‘to be’ is coming back.