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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How To Love Things For What They Are

I went to a Goodwill store in my city, and I was amazed to say the least. Rows and rows of pretty blouses and shirts, and then shoes and bags and jeans and jackets, and lest forget all the knickknacks and home ornament and such. One thing that crossed my mind was: I didn't realize American has awfully lot of stuff. 

Why buy people's junk, you say? Coincidentally, that's also what my mom says back home. I remember my sister coming home with a bunch of clothes after a day at a Bali thrift market, and we were hardly impressed with her findings. Sure, vintage look is always on; but her findings were very much unflattering and in such poor condition that my kitchen rag would look down on them if only it can do so. The poor condition is most likely caused by the tropical heat and humidity; and to be fair, not many people are into that thrift thingy. I hold on to my clothes as long as I could, and even after it became so tattered and torn it usually being given a second life as day-to-day rag. We gave away things that we are not using anymore to less fortunate relatives, but again, it really wasn't much. Baby or children clothes mainly, since there is nothing we can do when they outgrown it; but we hung on to our adult clothes as long as possible. Granted, this is probably because my family didn't have much; but then again, I do not think many regular Indonesian had the chance to do clothes shopping regularly. Thus it is understandable if the thrift shop finding was less than satisfying.

Pretty, comfy shoes!!

Yet here in US, the quality of the items in thrift shops such as Goodwill are immensely satisfying. The blouses and shirts that I saw today were probably the same quality as the ones I purchased in a factory outlet and such, and with less the price. Sure, it was probably used by someone else already; but think about it, who will actually know where and when you bought your clothes? Was it really that bad to give that unwanted dress/clothing a second life? I found a pair of really cool-looking shoes at a vintage/thrift shop in Tucson, and it only cost me $9 for such a good quality leather shoes. A friend of mine has this magnificent wooden doll house, and I couldn't believe when she told me she got it at a thrift store. But then again, maybe I should believe it. I also found a good cooking book: it's old and clunky and not very health friendly (i.e. no explanation on nutrition or gluten-free option and such) and it has never failed me even once. Yep. That's a good solid recipe book there. And the Bhagavadgita which would cost way more even at my home country. And the $1 and $0.50 books from the local library. I could go on forever. Seriously.

In J.R.R.Tolkien's epic saga The Lord of The Ring, it was said that the Hobbits love to give away presents and some of the (actually) unwanted presents - or Mathom as they called it - would be given away repeatedly until it's being put to the mathom-house. In a way, probably most American are similar to them, since American seemed to love giving away gifts and presents: Christmas, Valentines, Birthdays, Easters, or any holiday that strikes your fancy. This could cause a total headache for the giver, especially on a popular holiday such as Christmas. I know, I know, you would say there is no such thing as 'receiving too many gifts'. Yet, it was exactly what these thrift shop is all about: a mathom house for unwanted items. Silver frames and ornaments, glass decorations, I even saw a beautiful wedding album that still bear the original card from the person who gifted it. And it makes me wonder: does all gifts have to be brand new? Can't we give these mathoms, these unwanted items a second chance? Understandably, you might feel cheap to give someone a used item (except if it's antique or extra expensive); and whoever receive the gift probably also feel insulted that he/she only merit a second-hand item. But since when does the price of an object became the real value of the object?

Love these books :)

Think about it. An ultra-deluxe super-healthy-weight-friendly recipe e-book probably would be awesome (I saw one for about $29.99 at GooglePlay store), but I am pretty happy with my old you-can't-fail-this-you-dumbass cookbook for a mere $3.99. A $29.99 Monster High barbie was all the rage right now, but it can't beat a beautiful regally-dressed Barbie holiday edition for the same price (albeit it was released in 1994). And seriously, a $3.99 American Game Box (include jacks, spaghetti toss, dice, etc) could be played long after that video game that you bought went dusty and forgotten in the shelf. And don't even start with clothing. If you have no problem cashing in for a fancy piece of 1920's clothing, you don't really have a solid reason to snub these newer second-hand items. I mean, why spend a larger amount of money for something that you would eventually throw away in, say, 6 months? The answer to this is probably: because I can afford to. Which is also the answer on why you wanted a 6-hectare mansion just for you and your spouse, another car even though you already had a couple in your garage, a summer house and/or a winter cabin, and while we're at it, another lover or two (or even three). Because we can afford it, and because it is our way to say: "Hey, check out what I've got!". And you know, that is actually sad.

Why not start a tradition this coming holidays? Instead of the usual gift swap (which many would eventually resort to gift cards anyway), make it a thrift-swap which everyone has to gift something from a thrift shop that worth less than $10 and can be use by the receiver for one solid year. And gift at least 1 second-hand book for the little ones. It should be a really fun challenge, and you can do this simultaneously with your usual holiday gifting since it is extremely cheap. Learn to see more than just the tag price, learn to see an item for what it is. I have seen people refusing or lamenting when they have to wear/eat things that are not their preferred brand, and it made me sad to think they lost so much with this attitude. The lost of possibly fun and educating experience for one, and also the risk of getting their own self lost and being substitute with 'price'. Don't let yourself being defined with 'price', you are who you are and each of us is a very unique person. You are not "the woman who have enough money to decked out in fur and diamond" or "the man with a very fancy sports car", as tempting as it sound. Sure, it would be nice to let people see you with envy and to feel that you are better than others. Heck, that's exactly why people shop and spend! Just remember that there will be others who are also better than you, and the price tag that you pursue could go up higher and higher and it won't be long before you raced on that dangerous pursue that would eventually destroys you. Won't it be so much nicer and easier to just appreciate and love things for what they are? Yes, even thrift shop items. You got other more important things in life than trying to impress people with what you have paid for things, might as well enjoy what you have to the fullest and get done with it. Go ahead, try it. 

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