Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Art of Using Something Well

My mom is about to embark on a little home improvement project. The night shades on a few of her windows (including the ones in my room) are literally disintegrating. They are falling apart to the touch!

When I was visiting her last month, I wanted to pull the shade down to block out the street light that was shining through the window. As I walked up to the shade, I realized that it brittle and broken. Each time I tried to hold on to it to pull it down, pieces would break off in my hand! I was amazed. The thing has probably been there since I was in high school... many moons ago!

Likewise, my mom replaced her kitchen curtains last year. They too had... shall we say, seen better days. They were falling apart.

I was teasing her a bit about this today. Using things into the ground... until there isn't an ounce of 'use' left in them.

Even as I was teasing her, I was also admiring that attitude towards life. My mom isn't into replacing things just to have something new. That's not to say that she doesn't appreciate nice things. She certainly does. The attitude expressed here, however is in not indulging in buying new things just for the sake of having something new. It is an attitude of respecting that something has a function or job, and giving it the opportunity to do that job until it is no longer able!

In our disposable world, this attitude is fading fast. I get so upset that so many things are disposable and we collectively think nothing of throwing things 'away.' I was very affected the first time I read this statement:

There is no such place as 'away.'

When we 'throw things away' they end up in a landfill. Depending on how long they take to biodegrade they are with us for the long haul. If they give off toxins as they break down, they affect the entire balance of life. Yet, we often throw things away with a casual and unconscious attitude. As long as we don't look at it anymore, it's gone. That isn't really true, of course. The item we've discarded is, of course, somewhere.

I like my mom's attitude about using things well and thoroughly. I feel better about letting go of something when I know I've really enjoyed it and used it to the fullest. Whether its a car, an article of clothing or a computer. I always try to find a good home for things that still have use left in them. Now, thanks to the reminder by my mother, I'm going to be looking to hold on to things a little longer and use them a little better!

We can infuse the way we use our time with the same attitude. Each moment is an opportunity to invest a little of our life force and energy. When we fritter away our time we are not using it well. If we use our time involved in addictions and unhealthy habits, we miss an opportunity to invest our most valuable resource in what is most important to us.

Give a little thought to how you use all your resources in your life! Is there something you can use a little more thoughtfully? Carefully? Consciously? Completely?

There is a deep satisfaction that comes with using something well. Give it a try!

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