On my way home from work today, I saw a sign for a thrift store that donates its profits to the local humane society. I love thrift stores, and I love animals, so naturally, I had to go in.
A few laps around convinced me that there was nothing I wanted to buy, but I did find some interesting items along the way…
Like this device that punches letters into a plastic ribbon:
And this bookshelf where one of these things is not like the others:
And this entry in a tiny notebook:
(There’s something very sad and very real about a notebook that is entirely blank except for a title page with the words “wishes” and “manifestations”—and a third word I can’t read. This is compounded by the fact that the “wishes” journal is being resold in a thrift shop for $1. What happened? There’s a story there, and it’s one that any of us could’ve been a part of.)
As a kid, whenever I’d visit my great-aunt, we’d go shopping, and she would talk about how she considered “shopping” and “window shopping” to be one and the same. We didn’t have to buy anything; what mattered was that we were looking at things and spending time together.
Despite that, I did go into the store with the intention to buy something and call it my act of spontaneity for the day. I’d had a bit of a rough day, and buying little things here and there sometimes feels like it helps. But I’ve been listening to Cait Flanders’s The Year of Less on audiobook this week, and it has me rethinking some of my spending habits. In the autobiographical account of her year of restricting her shopping, Flanders talks about becoming a more mindful consumer, and I’ve found that inspiring.
In a way, her “shopping ban,” as she calls it, seems diametrically opposed to my “spontaneity project.” She set out to think things through more and be less impulsive; I set out to get less bogged down in thinking and, I suppose, be more impulsive. Listening to her book has made me examine my understanding of spontaneity and my motivations for doing The Spontaneity Project. (I’m grateful for that—and for her other insights—and I recommend the book to anyone with an interest in looking inward.)
In the store, I decided that just walking around and perusing the trinkets was enough—until I noticed the bin of playing cards and remembered that one of my best friends just started collecting playing cards.
I picked out a deck and then caught a glimpse of this game:
When I was really young, I used to love this game. I have no memory of how to play, but I’m looking forward to rediscovering it.
I deliberated on whether to buy these items and considered what I’d been learning from The Year of Less. Ultimately, I decided that they were worthy purchases but that I’d limit myself to just these two items.
I didn’t spend mindlessly, and I stepped out of my rut. I say that’s a win.
What’s The Spontaneity Project? Check out my “About” page.