Costco used to make me weak in the knees. It’s because I love food and they had all kinds of interesting things that I didn’t see in my regular grocery store…in bulk-sized containers. My other vice was books, especially ones on cooking. They’d sell the newest cookbooks for a lot less than I could get elsewhere. It was easy for my husband and I to spend over $100 on each shopping trip. I should let you know that we only have a household of two! That adds up to a lot over a year.
I realized that I couldn’t continue this habit. And it was exactly that. A habit. I didn’t need that monster jar of olives or that megasized bag of almonds. And I certainly didn’t need another cookbook. It was excess. A want instead of a need. I was being tempted because all this stuff was being presented to me in an environment where I couldn’t say no. It was an unaffordable luxury. So I decided not to renew my membership over a year ago and I feel a little more freedom (in my pocketbook and my pantry!).
I know that I’m fortunate to have so much. Food. Entertainment. Access to information via bookstores, internet and other media. Job opportunities. Yoga membership.
There’s this post from Leo Baubata about how few possessions Ghandi owned at his death. A pair of glasses, eating utensils, sandals and the clothing on his back. In comparison, I’m a packrat. About 5 years ago, I had to pack up my whole house and put it into storage. I hate moving. This was worse than moving because I had to transport everything in my house into this large locker unit yet keep only the things that I thought I would need for daily living and working. What disturbs me is that I haven’t looked at most of that stuff in 3 years. I didn’t need it. If that’s the case, why was I keeping it in my house? Why continue paying monthly for storage? It’s excess and I’m “drowning” in it.
It’s true that sometimes we don’t know what we have until we don’t have it anymore.
I remember reading a story about a woman who was saying good-bye to her daughter at the airport. She said to her, “I pray you enough”. I can’t recall much more than that but the phrase has stuck with me. I think she was trying to tell her daughter that the universe would provide her with enough of whatever it was she needed, for whatever the purpose. No more and no less. A beautiful reminder of non-excess.
Brahmacharya is the yama that deals with non-excess. About knowing when enough is enough. Not over-indulging. It can be applied to more than just food and material things. Like not staying up too late when I have to get up early the next day. Or saying yes to a request only if I can whole-heartedly offer the time and energy. All of this has pushed me to explore minimalism. What is it that I really need? To own? To eat? To do? How can I pare down all the excess so that I’m left with what’s really important?
I pray you enough.