Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Out with the old, in with the new?

There is such a thrill about having something new. Getting that shiny new telly out of the box, taking the tags off those pristine new clothes, discovering another person through those all consuming first few months of a new relationship, and the ultimate in newness, a new baby. Old stuff gets a bit tired. You've seen it day in day out for months, years even, and there's no mystery around it anymore. You've seen it from every angle, in light and in shade. The telly turns out to just be a telly, same as any other. Those features you thought were so exciting to begin with soon become the norm and you're craving the next best thing. The clothes you were so exhilarated by when they were in the shop become worn, or worse still unworn, a constant guilt trip of money wastage every time you open your wardrobe, "I've got nothing to wear!" you wail, but it's not that, you just want something new. The relationship gets kind of comfortable, nothing exciting seems to happen anymore, you're living the happily ever after. They don't tell you what happens after the happily ever after because as much as it was filled with mystery and intrigue at the beginning, quite frankly, it's not usually very exciting as time goes on. And those adorable little exciting bundles? Well, more often than not they grow up to be little shits (although we can live vicariously through their excitement and discovery).

Sometimes moving on and getting new things is unavoidable, but sometimes we choose to waste something that is, other than us becoming bored with it, perfectly good.

We have long been told we are throwing too much away. We are a generation of waste. The new telly, the new clothes, we don't always appreciate the things that still work, still look good or do the job because we are too busy thinking about the shiny new stuff we could get. Oooh, that's new, it must be better than my old one. We're like a bunch of magpies constantly searching for shiny things. But is this right? The fact is, we all love a good purge and replace, it's refreshing to be around new and different things.

Maybe this is one of the reasons why so many marriages aren't lasting these days? People want the excitement of a new relationship, or to escape the boredom of the old. But really, what's the point? It's very likely that the excitement and spontaneity of that new relationship will at some point get just as dulled as in the previous one, and you end up just where you were in the first place, same set of circumstances, just with a different person. Very often, particularly with human beings, just when you think you know someone, they go and do something exciting. Maybe this isn't the case with old or broken technical equipment (although I do think that as time goes on that will change, look at our current obsession with retro this that and the other) but with clothes you can customise, or wear it in a different way, but the fact is, so often it's down to YOU to make it exciting again. And it often just seems too much like hard work when you could just go and get something new. But this just adds to the ever growing amount of waste in our lives. We are being suffocated by landfill, devastated by waste, our obsession with the new and dealing with the fallout is slowly squeezing the life out of us.

Previous generations were wise with their old adage "make do and mend". I always thought this was about saving money. But I have come to realise it's more about preventing waste and making the most of the things we have. If we're constantly searching for the next best thing we will never ever find satisfaction and fulfillment. Old things may not be exciting, but there can be comfort in things that are old, security in familiarity and satisfaction in making things work, be they old tellies or tired relationships.

Besides, by it's very nature, excitement is only fleeting. And to be honest, being in a constant state of excitement is exhausting and irritating for all around (just ask my 4 year old).

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