this is dan’s take on simplicity.
This is my ugly watch. I purchased it because my last watch (Target, $25.99) broke off while I was riding my bike and now it’s gone. I purchased this fine Casio F-91w at Walgreens on my way home from class that very evening. It costs me only $15, some might say that’s too much, but I could not begin to measure my astounding level of happiness with it. It does the job perfectly, it’s affordable, it sure as hell is ugly and I couldn’t care less about it.
Why the hell am I writing a blog post about my crappy watch? I’m not, my watch is only symbolic of a greater idealism. I like the idea of being a watch guy, I wanted to be a watch guy. I wanted to know all about them and have a case or winder, much like a humidor to choose a watch from and all that other meaningless crap. Then I realized how stupid it was to invest so much of my time and money into something so trivial as keeping accurate time. Much like my wive’s previous post, simplicity is ultimate sophistication. It marks a level in your life that you have realized what’s important and what’s not. I wanted something that would have given me no real happiness and only additional financial burden and worry.
When you own something of value, or worth beyond its intrinsic value, you develop an attachment to it, mostly because of the investment required. You poured your sweat into earning dollars that paid for the item, in this case, a watch. So you feel as if your job, your work, is a direct input of that item. It’s not. I won’t go into what your job really means, that’ll be a future post, but there is no need to have an intimate emotional relationship with money, there’s no benefit from it, much less a physical object you recently paid for.
My watch serves the single purpose a watch was created for. It does so more accurately than the thousands of variations on time keeping devices invented before and many very expensive current pieces. It’s been claimed to keep time as accurately as a variance of 6mins per month at most. The digital watch is a massive step forward in human innovation. It’s cheap, effective and if it breaks, I can just go back to Walgreens to buy another for under $20. It tells the date and has an alarm. It fits a need so very well with zero excess, that unless there is a watch for cheaper made to tell time with higher accuracy or make a battery last longer, than there is no better watch for me and there is no better watch for the majority of the human population. It’s a step toward utopia.
But this isn’t about a watch, it’s about need vs want vs the entire consumer movement. We are bred to be advertised to, we expect a want and when we don’t have a want, we feel empty. There is no need for me to keep multiples of this particular item other than ignorant want.
I’ve come to the realization, that when you purchase items of value: jewelry, cars, etc; you want more of those items and more of your thought process goes towards worrying about them. I couldn’t give a damn if this watch gets wet or breaks because it was cheap and its aesthetics don’t improve my life in any way – let’s be honest, what aesthetics really do?. But with higher valued or luxury items, there’s a greater want that comes attached to them. You buy a $120 pair of jeans and you want more because you think that because they cost so much, they actually fit better. Maybe they do fit better than something you could have bought at Wal-Mart, but therein lies the image factor – again another post for another day. When you purchase cheap items that have an intrinsic value limited to the purpose they were designed for, you are released from the burden of want. My watch serves a purpose and performs it’s duties with no excess. The same is my ideal model for life; to each his own need, to each his own ability. I’ve read that in feudal Japan, merchants were the lowest class of citizens because they produced nothing. I feel that this is very closely tied to consumerism as a whole. Some consummation is inevitable but consuming out of want rather than need or for the purpose of utility is greed and it only feeds the machine.
When you rid yourself of the items you purchased because you were tricked into thinking that they would make your life better, you no longer have any burden of image, or financial loss or the need to get your “cost per wear” down or any other of those phony bologna reasons. Human have evolved to be utilitarian and we are regressing on that design due to increased technological innovations. We’re smarter than this. Dump those things that you only own because you want them or because others have them. Buy and use what works, leave the rest for the birds. The nest time you feel yourself wanting something that you have no real need for, ask yourself “how will this improve my life?”. And if there is no answer, then scrap it.