Limits

The week my husband and I decided to cancel our gym membership, I lost five pounds.

* * *
I’ve been reading a book of agricultural essays by Wendell Berry.  Despite having written over fifty books, Berry is not a well-known author.  I suspect it’s because he tells the truth where we prefer fiction.  In this book, Berry writes a lot about limits: Despite what the advertisers tell us, he says, we cannot have it all. 

To me this means I need to start limiting in two ways: what I choose to own (and purchase) and what advertisements I choose to listen to (and believe).  I’ve decided, then, in the interest of our upcoming move and in the pursuit of limits, to rid myself of one thing each day. 


Last week, I gave up the gym membership, my iPod, and five books.  Giving up the gym was easy: If I choose the gym, I choose to drive fifteen minutes to get there and another fifteen minutes for the return trip.  I choose to exercise with strangers.  I choose to purchase yoga mats, bicycle seats, and a new bathing suit.  And what do I lose? Besides the obvious time and money, I lose time walking with my husband in the evenings.  I lose my “thinking time”—a time where I am alone with my thoughts, a time when much of my writing gets done.  And the poor dog loses his three mile walk.  Apparently, however, by belonging to the gym, I do not lose weight.

I gave up the iPod for many of the same reasons: It takes a lot of time to manage an iPod—downloading songs and podcasts; remembering to charge the battery; rounding up and detangling headphones.  And I find by that listening to the creativity of others, I surrender my own.  Worst of all, plugged into an iPod or playing one of its many games, I disconnect from my family. 
It was hardest to give up my books, which I consider treasured friends.  But they have stood unopened upon my shelves far too long.  It’s time to let someone else treasure them.  Bit by bit, I will pass my books on, holding on to only the dearest books; the ones I consult frequently.  You can bet my collection of Wendell Berry books will stay.

By next year at this time, I will be three hundred and sixty-five things lighter.  And who knows? Since quitting the gym, I may even be lighter, too.

Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food

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Writing in the Margins, Bursting at the Seams: Limits

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Limits

The week my husband and I decided to cancel our gym membership, I lost five pounds.

* * *
I’ve been reading a book of agricultural essays by Wendell Berry.  Despite having written over fifty books, Berry is not a well-known author.  I suspect it’s because he tells the truth where we prefer fiction.  In this book, Berry writes a lot about limits: Despite what the advertisers tell us, he says, we cannot have it all. 

To me this means I need to start limiting in two ways: what I choose to own (and purchase) and what advertisements I choose to listen to (and believe).  I’ve decided, then, in the interest of our upcoming move and in the pursuit of limits, to rid myself of one thing each day. 


Last week, I gave up the gym membership, my iPod, and five books.  Giving up the gym was easy: If I choose the gym, I choose to drive fifteen minutes to get there and another fifteen minutes for the return trip.  I choose to exercise with strangers.  I choose to purchase yoga mats, bicycle seats, and a new bathing suit.  And what do I lose? Besides the obvious time and money, I lose time walking with my husband in the evenings.  I lose my “thinking time”—a time where I am alone with my thoughts, a time when much of my writing gets done.  And the poor dog loses his three mile walk.  Apparently, however, by belonging to the gym, I do not lose weight.

I gave up the iPod for many of the same reasons: It takes a lot of time to manage an iPod—downloading songs and podcasts; remembering to charge the battery; rounding up and detangling headphones.  And I find by that listening to the creativity of others, I surrender my own.  Worst of all, plugged into an iPod or playing one of its many games, I disconnect from my family. 
It was hardest to give up my books, which I consider treasured friends.  But they have stood unopened upon my shelves far too long.  It’s time to let someone else treasure them.  Bit by bit, I will pass my books on, holding on to only the dearest books; the ones I consult frequently.  You can bet my collection of Wendell Berry books will stay.

By next year at this time, I will be three hundred and sixty-five things lighter.  And who knows? Since quitting the gym, I may even be lighter, too.

Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food

Labels: , ,

4 Comments:

At April 12, 2012 at 5:02 AM , Anonymous Amanda said...

I like this! It's something that's been on my mind lately: how much we sacrifice for *things* - in terms of relationships & also our very selves. Also, I definitely want to check out Wendell Berry now.

 
At April 12, 2012 at 5:56 AM , Anonymous jaum said...

The realization that “possessions possess the possessor” is an epiphany that many people never reach. I loved your what do I lose and what do I gain, approach! The reckless accumulation of “THINGS” is a good habit to examine and break. Thanks for making us think of that.

 
At April 12, 2012 at 7:32 AM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Oh, do check him out. He's got fiction (Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter are two of his best I've read so far) and nonfiction. Some of his work is really tough to find. Let me know what you think!

 
At April 12, 2012 at 7:32 AM , Anonymous Kgwaite said...

Thanks for reading - Can't wait to get out of here!

 

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