Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm giving it away.

So last night R. and I made an executive decision to cancel cable for our apartment, put the television into storage (temporarily, until we can bear to part with it on a permanent basis), and give away hundreds of dollars worth of video game consoles, games, and accessories. I ultimately decided to give all these games away to the children of my coworkers (including a $500 Playstation 3 that was definitely used a total of four times and dozens of new/vintage video games worth anywhere from $15 to $300 apiece).

Note: Yes, this includes Guitar Hero. *sob* < (j/k)

The reaction of my friends and colleagues this morning, when I told them about our plan, was unanimous dismay. How can I just give all this stuff away? Don't I want to sell it and make some of my money back? Won't I miss having it available to use? Why don't I donate it to charity so I can at least put it down on my tax return?

Luckily, being Buddhist gets me a lot of rationality points as far as the throwing off material possessions kick goes. While people might be mildly curious when a Buddhist does a material purge, one of the most well-known facts about the religion is its emphasis on non-attachment. Which is interesting, given the sheer amount of useless crap I have on hand at any given moment.

Hence the decision to give it all away. has some really good reasons for why having a TV is a terrible idea. It rots your brain. It makes you fat. It makes your kids violent and stupid and obsessed with new expensive things. It keeps you inside on beautiful days when your butt should definitely be outside. And most of all, it keeps you from having the time to achieve your dreams or spend meaningful time with the people in your life that you care about.

Not to mention the fact that if you are a writer (as I am) then TV takes WAY too much time. Stephen King put it best when he said one of the most productive things you can do when you're trying to become a writer is to chuck your television out the nearest window.

Me and R. have several good ideas for how to spend the time we are going to be saving by getting rid of the TV. We'll relearn the virtues of silence and how to entertain ourselves instead of relying on "screen people" to do it for us. We're going to paint and draw and write and hike. We'll work on the garden, get more politically active, and travel. We'll study and do research, volunteer in the community, and play games. Contrary to popular belief, there are a LOT better things you can be doing than watching Grey's Anatomy.

This material purge is not just going to be limited to media either. Today on my lunch break we cleared the kitchen of all non-perishables except our canned goods, which are temporarily staying while we transition into a method of cooking which only involves fresh, locally produced foods. We are going to bake our own bread and can our own vegetables/fruits/etc. Hopefully a lot of these vegetables will be coming from our own organic garden, but anything we can't get there we plan to get through the farmer's markets and pick-your-own places. (Google Monsanto or genetically manipulated produce if you want to know why we are focusing so heavily on heirloom organic products. Agriculture is a scary place these days.)

If you think the world is heading in the wrong direction, one of the strongest things you can do as a consumer is take control of the things you are willing to make for yourself versus the things you are willing to buy. Pay attention. Turn off your television.

Wake up.

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