Spirit is willing but the wallet is weak

While I lie in bed waiting for the alarm clock to go off at 4:30 a.m., I can hear a steady stream of email coming into my iPhone, one ping after another in an annoying rhapsody. When did I become so popular?

Only later, when I finally have the courage to see what new cyber-horrors the night has brought, do I realize that most of them are advertisements for everything from the popular blue pill to the latest best-sellers at Amazon — all because I was stupid enough to give my email address to just about every clothes store, book store, shoe store, used car dealer, doughnut shop and sushi bar I ever visited.

Who knew that when you filled in the line asking for your email address that it was an invitation to get pummeled relentlessly with advertisements and promotions?

Every morning brings a new sale, a new offer, a new opportunity, a new temptation. A guy could go broke saving money.

For those of us who struggle to control our spending, it’s like Satan whispering in our ears with another enticement to drive us to the poorhouse or divorce court. The spirit is willing but the wallet is weak.

So I don’t succumb to temptation, I begin the morning ritual of hitting the delete button and eliminating these pitches … until I come upon one from a classy clothing store that has the subject line, “Items you can’t live without,” otherwise known as “must haves.”

“Hmmm,” I conclude. “These things are obviously necessary for me.”

My curiosity is piqued, so I open the email to discover the “must haves” include a pricey cable-knit crew-neck sweater, a seersucker suit, cashmere socks, and some crazy-colored pastel golf shirts that I wouldn’t wear unless I was trying to frighten away woodland creatures and door-to-door solicitors.

I’m a guy with a long list of things he “can’t live without,” so many in fact that if I were to buy them all, I’d go bankrupt and run through my meager retirement savings in a few weeks.

Will power is something I’ve never understood, which is why my list of “things I can’t live without” is a long one.

However, I want to free myself from the consumer mentality, largely because there are billions of people out there who also have things they can’t live without, like clean water, food for their families, a safe place to live, and decent clothes that don’t include a merino wool sweater.

When I give it serious thought, I realize there are many things I can live without, and the older I get the more that list increases.

Maybe it’s time to start dispossessing and downsizing. We spend half our lives acquiring and half our lives discarding — or someone else gets that responsibility.

A few months ago, my neighbor died and left a house filled with possessions. Last week, cars were lined up and down the street as people wandered around his home, rummaging through his belongings and buying them for a fraction of their value so the family could get rid of “stuff” and move on.

When my father died, we took out three Dumpsters of stuff, all of it accumulated over the years. Yes, they were things he couldn’t live without even though I suspect that now he’s doing perfectly fine without them where he is.

 

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