Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Goodwill, Used Clothing, and the Meaning of Life
Today’s post focuses on a deep, internal struggle I experienced this past weekend.
I ate on Yom Kippur. But I did not thrift. This was actually quite a sacrifice for me as Yom Kippur fell on Saturday. I showed great restraint as I passed a yard sale sign while out walking with my daughter. It took everything I had to continue on my path and not veer off in search of treasure.
I had to ignore all the posts on Craigslist, turn the page when I came to the Classified section in the paper, and ignore any brightly colored fliers stapled to the telephone poles. I’ll admit, I don’t think this type of sacrifice is what God had in mind when commanding us to fast on Yom Kippur. I’m no Talmudic scholar, but from what I gather, we’re supposed to ignore all bodily needs. It’s supposed to help us focus more on our spirituality, bring us closer to God, or something like that.
I’m sure I’m not alone, however, in feeling that the only thing I can focus on when I’m fasting is my next meal. I don’t find lightheadedness from hunger to be spiritual at all.
What I do find spiritual is a fully stocked aisle at Goodwill. There, as I leaf through worn sweaters, I find myself falling into a deep meditative state. The surrounding noises of the busy store recede into the background as I enter the Zone, waiting patiently for the bold pink of a Lilly Pulitzer flamingo pattern to spring forth.
So herein lies my deep philosophical struggle –that I find I am most grounded, perhaps most spiritual , not while I’m balancing in tree pose, crossing the finish line of a 5k, or dehydrating in a sweat lodge, but sifting through half-used craft supplies at the Salvation Army.
What does this say about me --that my true joy comes from sorting through others’ refuse? That materialism (and base-level materialism at that) brings me peace? Or is it like panning for gold? Am I a recession-era treasure hunter?
I have no answer. What I do know is that I enjoy thrifting. And I’m good at it. And who am I to question my god-given gift? If I’ve been put on earth to rescue vintage Channel from landfill, so be it. Perhaps I’m like a pop archivist—preserving all the crap from today (and yesterday) that might mean something to some sociologist or archeologist down the road.
Take this gift wrap I found, for example. It spoke to me with its tales of a simpler time. I imagine someone will buy it from me on eBay for a scrapbooking project. And the effort to preserve the past will continue.
As will my philosophical struggle. Especially when Yom Kippur rolls around next year and I debate whether to fast or not, how I want to show my faith, and what exactly that faith is.