Monday, September 14, 2015

Thoughts on 7

Before I get all soap-boxy (hopefully not too much) and introspective with some thoughts about Jen Hatmaker's 7: An experimental mutiny against excess, here are a few things that I do know.

1.  The weather is getting cooler.  In the drop-off line this morning, I watched two elementary aged kids hop out of their mom's car wearing jeans, regular shoes, long sleeved shirts (maybe jackets), and gloves.  The temperature gauge on my car said that we were enjoying some crisp, almost fall, and delightfully sunny 56-degree weather.  I looked at those (obviously) smart girls and then watched my own knuckle-head skip around the front of my car wearing her standard fare: flip-flops and a skirt.  The only concession to the cooler morning was a long-sleeved t-shirt.  We need to move to a warmer climate, and it needs to happen NOW, if only so that I don't have to wrestle a reluctant 6-year old into clothing that touches her skin for the next 9 months. 

2.  That same 6-year old has been creating page after page of gems with a new set of metallic markers over this past weekend.  She's branched out beyond her standard fare of suns, flowers, stick figures, and buildings.  Friends, she has started to write poetry.  This stuff is SO GOOD that I have share one with you (reproduced verbatim, though I can't figure out how to emulate the fancy squiggles & stars decorating the page).

I Like
to LISN!
Lisn to me
Lisn to me
sis and [scribble scribble scribble]
and mom and
Dad I am a

That's some solid work for a kid who knows that she's the oldest.  The good news: We still have a few years to work on that understanding of "self" versus "others."  The better news:  She's just the spittin' image of her father, from what I hear and witness myself; he's a pretty solid individual now, so we have high hopes that she's going to figure it out eventually. 

3.  The BMV isn't open on Mondays.  That's another reason to loathe you, BMV.

And, now - 7: An experimental mutiny against excess.  I came across this at the recommendation of one of my favorite bloggers (and since I read everything she writes, we're basically best buds), and oh, but I was not disappointed.  So much of this idea mirrors that which I admire but don't often have the guts to go through with myself.  'Cause here's the thing, folks:  Jen Hatmaker's premise of giving up things in our lives is the SUB-PLOT, the minor point throughout the narrative.  What's really going on is her experiment with chucking all of that materialism and inward focus, which is what society (largely driven by advertising, naturally) tells us we SHOULD do.  When's the last time we've questioned why we're buying from a certain store or what it means to feed ourselves (to excess) first before we moan and moan about feeding our neighbors?  There's some amount of strength right there to challenge just about all of our daily habits in order to figure out the why of it all in order to understand the reality of consuming as we do.

The premise of Jen's book is that she challenged herself primarily, though her family did participate quite a bit, to fast from seven different areas of consumption in their "normal," middle-class, suburban lifestyle.  She fasted in regards to each category for one month at a time.  Some of these areas really caused me to question my/our own levels of consumption, namely that which pertains to clothing, food, and spending habits. 

Clothing: Jen chose just 7 articles of clothing out of the 300+ that she had in her closet to wear for one month.  Would it shock us into truly considering our needs if we each counted every article of clothing (socks & underwear notwithstanding)?  Would that cause us to adjust our consumption of clothes for the sake of having more/cuter/better clothes?

Food: Jen chose just 7 foods to eat for one month.  Who among us would be able to withstand this choice for more than two or three days?  Consider how variety has become such a necessity in our lives. 

Spending habits: Jen's family chose just 7 places to spend money (with an emphasis on local) for one month.  Honestly, I think that this would be the easiest of the three to contend with for an entire month.  And, for that matter, I could spend at just five places for an entire month pretty happily.  But if I were to adjust my spending to shop more locally, eschewing the box store in favor of spending power, then a pinch that would be.

The 7 fast corresponded with the timeline that Jen's family was living as they began an adoption process for two children from Ethiopia, so quite a bit of what Jen was learning about her family was contrasted against the changes that were coming for them, a diet of sorts before they were face-to-face with some of the physical reason for why Jen was feeling the disgust of the circumstances of her family's living. 

Her work also has begun a thought process for me (and us as I've shared a lot of what was impressed upon me with the boy) about how do we give until it pinches?  Should we do so?  How can we do so?  And, most importantly, why should we do so?

I feel the intense pressure to conform when sitting through a kid's birthday party, walking into the local Target for "one or two things" and even flipping through the newspaper.  Consumerism drives our lives in sometimes unexpected ways.  It is a jealous mistress and a controlling one.  We don't have this all reckoned with yet for how we want our family to actually engage with consumerism, for how we should be consumers, but I think that we're working on it.  We don't have to wholly fast (though I can truly believe that there's a whole lot of power in this act) in order to still understand ways that we an and should be more responsible and in control of our own consumption. 

1 comment:

Crystal said...

Ooh. This gives me a lot to think about. Thank you. We've been in the throes of thinking about consumerism with a new baby. Do we Need the latest swing/onesies/toy? We've talked about it a lot. Partly because our house is so small, and naturally therefore her room needs to function as her room, but also hold her medical supplies, the toys we have for our nieces, and a fish tank. So we have to think about how many clothes/diapers she really Needs and we're careful to not keep too many extras. But that's driven largely by space constraints. On the other hand, we continue to choose to live in this small house partly so that we're continuously conscious about the 'clutter' or new items coming into the house. It's a balance we haven't found yet, but we're still thinking about.
Living at the hospital for 9 weeks with limited clothing there with us has made me start to think about all of the clothes I own. Like you kind of mentioned, I think picking only 7 items to use would result in a higher quality wardrobe for me, actually.