Before I conceived the full scope of this project, I had the idea of not buying anything for one, two or three months. I gave up on that because it didn’t actually seem like a challenge. And now that I’m two months in, I’m glad I did. It wouldn’t have been a challenge. If I could go shopping for everything and anything tomorrow, I’m not sure I’d have learned much.
But looking down the long road of ten more months, I see the challenge only growing. Not just the challenge of making do, but of keeping my spirits up throughout the year. I’ve already talked about the difficulties of living in an urban environment, surrounded by ads and shops and stylish people. Now even the remnants of consumption irritate me. The streets of New York are always filled with trash: little paper receipts from the drug store, take-out coffee cups blown from trash cans. Stuff, and the inevitable waste that accompanies it, is all around!
I think I’m suffering a city schism. Me and the city? Not so good together right now. It’s a bit mixed up in my head, whether it’s the project that’s causing it or it’s the project that’s reminding me of ways I’d prefer to live. After all 2012, and the project, started while I was living in a quinzee in the Tetons. Talk about making do! Though after nine straight days in the same wool shirt, a second (clean!) one would have been nice. Being in the mountains with so little is a clear reminder of how little one really needs to survive. Not just survive though, to be very content.
If I fail to Make Do for the year, I don’t think it will be because I want to buy things and won’t be able to resist. No, it will be because I won’t like who the not-buying-me has become: irritable and judgy, misanthropic, one typewriter away from banging out a manifesto in my cabin in the woods. Can I happily remain in consumptive society without participating? I don’t know. (I do know participating fully didn’t bring me much happiness.) Perhaps this will be the journey of the next ten months.