I have these blue and white striped pants. When I was about seven years old, my mum bought them for me, with a matching T-Shirt. Whenever I wore that “outfit,” I felt like the coolest kid in the room. Today, I still have those pants. And sometimes I still wear those pants. To me, those pants are still beautiful in their very own way. I am attached to them, and the thought of tossing them would never cross my mind.
What if our life consisted of beautiful things (such as my blue and white striped pants) only? What would a world look like in which everything we have is so beautiful that we wouldn’t dare to throw it away and replace it? What if it was timelessly beautiful because it grows and ages with us?
I noticed that the value of things runs through five phases and is related to availability and accessibility.
Phase I: When we don’t have much, we want more. I am not talking about poverty beyond the poverty line (that is a story in itself). I am talking about not having a lot compared to the average. I noticed again and again that people who grew up in rather poor economic conditions are often more likely to strive for material success. Once we have decently enough…
Phase II: We still want more.
Phase III: We are satiated with things, and stuff annoys us. We detach ourselves from it and value experiences over things (often found in sustainability and lifestyle discourses). This can be incredibly liberating. And very common in my bubble. Movements such as minimalism and buen vivir exemplify how alluring it is to focus less on stuff. In a way, this is an overcompensation for the sheer endless material abundance we have at our fingertips.
Phase IV: We notice that denying the pleasure of things is not the solution. Instead, we focus on maximizing our love and appreciation for what we already have. We see the beauty in it all. Every spoon becomes a treasure. Every sock a gown. Every book a masterpiece. Every brush a visit to a hair salon.
I personally don’t run through these phases linearly. It’s messier. It’s easy for me to find beauty and appreciation for the one dress I wear or my favorite lunch bowl. It’s harder for me to fall in love with my towels. One of the things I find nothing but beauty in are those blue-and-white-stripped pants.