About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Caring for things

I was brought up to believe that we shouldn't attach too much importance to things. What really matters in life is other people, and we shouldn't care too much about mere stuff. I basically still stand by this, but I've been wondering recently whether there's a danger of taking it too far.

If we attach no importance to things, we're essentially treating them as worthless, and there's a very short step between worthless and disposable. I may feel that not caring too much about things is anti-materialist, but I still use things. Treating things as worthless tends to result in losing track of them and/or throwing them away, so next time I need that thing, I have to buy another one. Not caring about things can actually lead to consumerist behaviour.

Having bought a pair of hand made shoes, I feel the need to take care of them, otherwise they'll get ruined and that would be a shocking waste of money. Notice that word care? Caring for things is very closely related to caring about things. In fact, without the latter I think the former is almost impossible. It's the same with my kettle. Although I didn't pay much for it, valuing it highly gives me the motivation to polish it (and mend it if necessary).

Today I needed wire strippers. I have a beautiful pair that I inherited from my grandparents, who had no sense of economy at all. They always bought the best, whether they could afford it or not.

I couldn't find them, so I asked Ian, and he sheepishly admitted that they were, In the garage... somewhere. I sent him to find them (I had already looked there) but when he brought them back I was less bothered by the fact he'd borrowed them than by the state of the blades. I'm trying to avoid turning this into a whinge about my husband, but I was really upset. He'd used them as pliers to remove a stubborn circlip, and they no longer had beautiful, sharp, close-fitting, V-shaped blades. A bit of work with a needle file returned them to a usable state, but they're not the high quality tool they once were.

It still feels wrong to be so attached to an object, but actually I do care and I'm not entirely sure that's a bad thing. If we value tools enough to look after them, they can last a lifetime. If not, we end up on the treadmill of cheap, disposable crap.

6 comments:

  1. I was brought up completely opposite to you - to care about things because they were (semi) permanent, whereas people could come and go at will and could therefore not be relied upon.

    As a result of this thinking, I still own items from practically every stage of my life, from my childhood teddy (understandable), to work diaries from a job I was made redundant from a quarter of a century ago (less so). So I feel your pain with regard to your wire strippers. I would be as upset as you. I hope you still find them useful and a pleasure to own.

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    Replies
    1. I admit I have trouble relating to this way of thinking. I may love my tools, but no matter how much I take care of them, it's never going to be as satisfying as a relationship with a real live human being.

      I do tend to hoard stuff, though...

      Delete
  2. Ian. (the other one)25 March 2013 at 22:42

    I have a pair of those that I "inherited" from the Post Office. Strippers Wire No.2 I think. Still using screwdrivers that were issued to me in the 1970's, quality stuff.

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    Replies
    1. So they are! It's appropriate, then, that I was using them on a telephone cable.

      Delete
  3. I really enjoyed this post Rachel. I tried to write something more profound but there is a lot of snot compromising my brain function and it all came out waffly so this will have to do. I know exactly where you're coming from. And I'm sorry about your wire strippers.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks :-)
      And I hope the snot leaves you alone soon. I can relate to that, too.

      Delete

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