I think I may be reaching a turning point (a fork stuck in the road). I think it’s been a few years coming, but hasn’t really crystallized until recently.
Perhaps I should back up a step. I love movies. I have four shelves (or five, if you count the DVDs not currently “shelved”) of DVDs, some TV shows, some motion pictures. I’ve got all of the Star Trek, Star Wars, The Matrix, Spider-man, Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, Evil Dead and Lord of the Rings (among countless others). I like having those at my disposal at all times. But, being completely honest, I haven’t watched any of the Matrix, Back to the Future, Star Wars or Lord of the Rings movies in the last 2 years. There’s always new stuff available, we’ve got Netflix bringing me a steady stream of content, my Hulu queue is chock full of hours of stuff I still need to watch before they expire…
…and along with all that, I’ve got a job, I still play video games, I have responsibilities at church, I’ve got chores around the house…and I’ve got a 2+ year old to play with for most of my time at home.
Some of this is simply derived from the changing times. When I started buying DVDs in 2000, there was no “Netflix”, and cable was only available in the “common rooms” of the dorms unless you paid extra for it. Movies were how we entertained ourselves. Granted, as a Freshman in college, your time is seemingly endless, so there are many hours to fill. Over the years, my DVD purchasing slowed to a trickle, around 2 or 3 per year, and we even traded in a box of them after we moved back to St. Louis just to make room on the shelf (which is good, because Meg got a ton of movies for Christmas last year).
But as the years have worn on, technology has changed, high-speed internet is more available, my free time has decreased on most nights, and I’ve moved four times in the last 7 years. And each box of DVDs serves as a reminder of how much stuff I’ve got. The DVDs by themselves take up multiple boxes, but we’ve also got tons of books (heavy ones, in fact…), we’ve got board games we rarely play, we’ve got musical instruments I wish I had more time to enjoy (though, I likely will in the near future, thankfully). We’ve got camping gear in the basement I get to use once a year if I’m lucky.
Some of these feelings have been stirred up by the Christmas season. This year, for the first time in many years, I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday (at least nothing on sale…). There were plenty of game sales, movie sales, computer hardware sales…but nothing was really appealing this time around. Also this year, Brooke and I decided against writing Christmas lists for ourselves (though we’ll make one up for Meg). We both have plenty of “stuff” sitting around the house. We’ve got clothes. We’ve got “toys.” We’ve got things we don’t have the time to use. That isn’t to say we don’t want anything for Christmas, but we’d rather not put a long list out there for our parents and siblings to fill out or draw from. A few thoughtful things are great: twenty is more than we need.
There’s a growing movement that gets revisited around Black Friday each year, and was recently discussed on my usual NPR program, OnPoint (I haven’t listened yet, but it’s in my queue…). There are folks out there who try to live on 100 items or less, making it something of a challenge to have literally 100 total items to your name (socks count as 2 “items,” if that gives you a feel for this concept). Now, we could never, uh, ever do that, but the idea behind it is still worth considering: if an individual can live on 100 items and find happiness, could we stand to get rid of some stuff, too?
So yeah, while I would love to have “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” on my shelf, I know I’ll just watch each one once and then pick them up again next year or in two years when their sequels come out. At which point, I could just spend $4 to watch it now and $3 (or less…) to watch it again in a few years. $7 is less than $25.
And it’ll save my Dad’s back to have a few less DVDs in boxes when he helps us move next time. 🙂