UTNE Review #3 (Paul Brownlow 2/22/99 for WR course)

greenspun.com : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

The Stuff of Life by Scott Russell Sanders, November/December, p. 47-51.

Submitted by: Paul Brownlow

Scott Sanders article, The Stuff of Life, clearly explains peoples lives today. There is too much emphasis put on material and personal status, which in turn makes peoples lives very complex. The authors time in the Rockies versus his return to everyday life illustrated how much time is spent on stuff that has such little meaning.

Sanders discussed his return to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. He says we are in a time of consumerism where we buy things that we do not need. These additional purchases become a burden on our life because we need to have places to put them and accessories that will make them work. Because of this, he vowed to only make purchases which were necessary, but noted that this would be tough to do because of the way history has evolved.

According to Sanders, history has shaped us to equate well-being with increase. He said that our ancestors were just as greedy as we are today, but that there level of technology limited them in their gathering. For example, the early tribes were nomadic and would move to where the food and supplies were and stay there until the resources were depleted. In Sanders opinion, a restraint (on consumerism) will have to come from culture.

A shift to spiritual fulfillment rather than material possessions is a way to live the simpler life according to Sanders. He says more time could be spent on meditation, pilgrimage, and other activities that could make life more fulfilling. Most of those other activities he listed included family and nature. He said without the burden of material goods and status more time could be spent on things that give more meaning to life.

I agree with author when he says people are buying things that they do not need. I have possessions that are not necessary and sometimes regret buying them in hindsight. It sometimes amazes me that my wife and I have not saved more of our dual income when we have no children. I believe this will change when are first child is born next month. My wife is going to stay at home with our child, so we are going to have to learn how to budget and only purchase things that are necessary. If we do this right, we should have money left over to save for future unexpected expenses.

I have also felt that the more I worked the more stuff I deserved to have. There have been instances where I have told my wife that I should be able to buy some bigger toys, like a boat or snowmobile, because I work more than one job. The only problem is I must keep those jobs in order to pay off the loans that bought those toys. So when the job gets overbearing, all I can do is grin and bear it. I do agree that people need to reevaluate what they consider important. For me, being home more often is becoming a greater concern, and the only way I will be able to change that is by changing my buying and working habits.

Sanders said people equate well-being with increase. I guess I would have to say I fall into that same category. That is one of the reasons I am getting my masters degree. I want to move up the ladder, so I can make a better life for my family and myself. It definitely has made my schedule much busier this year, but will hopefully be for the best in the long run. Maybe it will give me more time to spend with my family as it grows over the years.

The months to come will determine if I am willing to live the simpler life. I am definitely going to try it. I look forward to spending more time at home, and less time away at work. I know I will not be able to go out and buy anything I want, but the returns I feel will be worth it. Hopefully, I will have a greater fulfillment being able to be at home and enjoying my new child.

I have heard that the new millennium is going to change the way people live their lives. A move to a simpler life with less material belongings is supposed to be the trend. I will be interested to see if this actually happens even though producers are always coming out with new products that people like. The technology craze is a very good example. If the change can happen, I believe things will slow down and the everyday environment will become more relaxed.

-- Anonymous, February 22, 1999

Moderation questions? read the FAQ