Stash Less is an ongoing series whereby we discuss having a mindful stash. Previous Stash Less posts can be found here.
So I'm reading a book at the moment that is not at all related to Stash Less. However, it just connected the dots for me on something that has bugged me for many years. One of those moments when your brain goes ping and your realise you finally have a good explanation for something that you understood in your heart but did not have any words for.
And that is the difference between the idea of freedom, and true freedom. And how by engaging in the first type of freedom you can lose the chance at the second. Who doesn't love a paradox?
We have a cultural idea about freedom, our right to it, and what that freedom means. We value freedom very highly, as we should. Every country, and even every subculture, has a slightly different interpretation of what that freedom means depending on their history and heritage. Some cultural versions of freedom are more focused on individual rights, others on workers rights, others on community rights, or women's rights. Then of course, we individually form our own ideas about freedom and what it means to us, based on our history and experience.
The common thread that holds most of these versions of freedom together is that freedom is about our right to do as we please without restriction. If we are restricted then we aren't free, right?
Why is this important in the context of Stash Less? Because this here blog is ramping up to set some challenges around what we own, our consumption of materials in relation to our craft, and our spending patterns. From the comments over the last year, I feel like some people might feel that although they like the idea of Stash Less that it all feels a little too restrictive*. Like a burden - and that by setting some rules around their spending they would be giving up their freedom. Their right even! Their right to do what they want and purchase the pretty things. To feel that thrill of purchasing, possessing and having. The freedom to engage in our consumer culture with joy. Yippee?
So I wanted to offer my take on "freedom to purchase" as I'm now a year and a half into this project - and I've felt all of those feelings. I've sometimes felt that Stash Less is impinging upon my freedom. And my rights. And my life. :)
My realisation yesterday was about the paradox of freedom in the context of craft. Because for me it is a paradox. By engaging in my right to exercise my freedom to purchase, I created a situation where I didn't feel free.
By exersizing that very freedom (by purchasing whatever I want when I want it) I enslaved myself to to purchasing it when I didn't need it and to stuff. To being distracted by the idea of purchasing. To being distracted by FOMO. To shopping, rather than creating, when time was thin on the ground. To the idea that more stuff will make me more happy. To keeping up with all the goings on in the crafting world. To feeling guilt that my purchasing wasn't in line with my values around consumerism.
By engaging in a consumeristic version of freedom (to purchase with no rules or restrictions), I created a situation where I was weighed down by the realisation I owned too much stuff. And owning that stuff was restrictive in so many ways.
A year and a half in I've realised that there is another version of freedom - one that is much more aligned with how I want to live. It's light and it's joyful and it's mindful.
By choosing to restrict myself in a way that is in line with my core values, I'm engaging in a much deeper form of freedom. Not freedom in the moment, but rather the feeling of freedom that comes from living my values.
I am not weighed down by the psychological weight of owning too much. I am free (er**) from wishing and wanting - from being stuck in desire. I'm free from shopping as a pastime. I'm free from having to keep up. I'm free from the guilt of being excessive and knowing I'd made questionable choices.
Therein lies the freedom paradox! One where by purchasing freely, I created a bondage of stuff. Conversely by restricting my purchasing, I create a life of freedom.
Over the last year and a half, deciding what to craft and crafting itself, has become a more mindful practice for me. A quieter one with less buzz from the outside world and all the sparkly things on display. And that feels pretty good.
I'm off to bed now - but really hoping my realisation made sense?
The first challenge will be up next week and I'm truly grateful so many of you are interested in joining in.
PS. I'll be back Friday with my Simple Hat pattern that I promised you eons ago. Post is written (almost!)
*Please note that in no way does Stash Less involve restrictions set by anyone other than your-lovely-selves. :)