Ranger Kathryn's Arches

March 1, 2011

New Year’s resolution on track

On January 1 I read a girlfriend’s Facebook status describing her resolution: to refrain from buying any new clothing, shoes, or accessories for one year. It immediately struck a chord in me and I made it my resolution as well. I would begin that day, and there would be no pre-emptive buying “before the starting gun.”

As I stood in my closet on January 1, 2011, I realized that I had enough clothing, shoes, and accessories to last until Jesus comes back. I’ve not shopped necessarily out of need, but out of want — something cute in the latest style or a fresh color. Since contentment and simplicity are stated goals of mine, why not take on a challenge that would expose competing motives?

The first test came when I was meeting girlfriends at the Mall of America — epicenter of ostentatious consumerism — for a rendezvous. Ambling into a store, I’d be approached by a salesperson with “What may I show you today?” “Why, nothing, thank you,” I’d reply. “All our boots are 30% off,” came the enticement. And then I’d state my resolution.

The amazing consistency of retailers’ responses boils down to five words: “I could never do that.” Their answers to my “Why not?” were insightful: “I am addicted to fashion,” “It’s my job to model a certain look,” “I love to shop,” “I need new stuff to feel good about myself.”

Oh, what a tangled web we weave.

My season as a park ranger last year helped begin the weaning process from “stuff.” One had to drive two hours to the nearest mall; I’d rather be hiking in the wilderness. It was easy to scale back my acquisitions to bare necessities.

Now, make no mistake, I love the look and feel of something new and different in my wardrobe. I love the satisfaction of finding just the right piece to pull together an ensemble. But… but… I don’t NEED anything. Globally speaking, surely I have more in my closet than most of earth’s other inhabitants have in theirs — if they even have a closet. It’s incredibly liberating to have NO REASON to enter a mall. To know I am saving time, money, frustration, and natural resources by choosing instead to live with what I already have. To say “No” to the siren song of material items trying to seduce my heart.

What obstacles may arise in my no-shopping year? Would you ever try this? Why, or why not?

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