On Friday, my washing machine broke. A few days before that, my laptop was declared corrupted and unfixable. My phone stopped working completely last week, along with our haircutting machine.
Ds7 exclaimed, “It seems like everything is breaking at the same time!”
Hmm. It does seem like that.
While hanging the first load of wash from my new machine this morning, I was thinking about what a gift it was to me that all of these things broke simultaneously. It not only forced me to replace each item with something more suitable (other than no laptop yet :)), but showed me some subtle ways that I’m not honoring myself.
Our phone was having problems for a while – the phone itself was fine but the answering machine was the source of a malfunction. If we didn’t answer within four rings, instead of the answering machine picking up the caller would get a message that our line had been disconnected. The electronics store wasn’t close to where I do my regular errands and so I kept pushing off making this purchase. We lived with it like that for quite a while – for much too long – until the phone totally stopped working and we bought a new one.
I called in the washing machine repair guy a couple of months ago to fix my machine when it wasn’t working. He told me that it would be so costly to fix it that I’d be better off replacing it but that it would be usable for a while longer if I wanted to play around with the buttons and coax the wash cycle to begin. That’s what I did, until no amount of coaxing worked. I got my new (to me) washing machine yesterday, and it’s bigger, faster and more efficient. It’s a big help in getting through the backlog of laundry I have from four days of not doing wash.
I’ve been thinking about where frugality ends and self-denial begins. On one hand, it’s a good thing to use something fully and well, to appreciate it and not be hasty to discard it if it can still serve you.
On the other hand, it’s not a good thing to hold onto things that are hampering your functioning in the name of using it up.
These things were functioning. They weren’t working well but I didn’t feel a sense of urgency to replace them even though they were inconveniencing me and others. I move clutter out of my house regularly and often and don’t think of myself as having a clutter issue, but these items showed me that nonetheless I sometimes still hold onto things that aren’t serving me well.
Whenever we hold on to things that we don’t need or that don’t serve us, to some degree we give ourselves a subtle unspoken message about our own personal value as well as reflecting a lack of trust that our needs can and will be fully met. Just like by keeping clutter around, I was compromising myself by not prioritizing my needs and getting what I needed when I needed it.
Getting rid of what doesn’t serve you makes room for better things to come into your life. Thanks to these items breaking, my life is now filled with more things that meet my needs and that makes me feel abundant. Out with the old, in with the new!