The clutter of broken promises

This post is inspired by a recent post on Miss Minimalist.

In her post, she describes a baby swing that she purchased because it promised to make her fussy baby nap.  Though she is a die-hard “minsumerist,” she wasted no time parting with her money to buy this swing, this promise of peace while her baby slept peacefully.  Except her baby did not sleep.  Uh-oh.

That swing made a promise to her and it fell short of that promise.

What about the promises we make to our stuff? Or the promises we make to ourselves when we buy the stuff that plagues us?

I have an easel.  Priced at $45 at an estate sale, I took it home for $20.  Oh, the things I was going to paint.  And I have yet to do so, after owning the easel for months.  It didn’t make any promises to me… it’s just an easel.  I guess it promised to hold whatever canvas I put upon it, and it will be able to keep that promise.  But I promised it I would use it and love it and paint upon it.  I promised it a place of honor in my new flat (which it has, even if I never use it). I promised myself I would paint more with this easel.  I have not painted anything in several months.

If you find yourself surrounded by the clutter of broken promises, evaluate them.  What is the promise?  Who made it?  Who broke it?  Can the promise be kept? If not, maybe it’s time to let go of the promise.

If you find yourself considering a new item, evaluate those promises too.
What is this item promising to do?  Can you have that need met elsewhere?  Are you, say, buying an easel, or a new pair of running shoes, when you haven’t been doing any painting or running? Those things won’t make you an artist or an athlete.  In this instance, I think it’s better to work with what you have for now to make sure whatever promises you or your potential stuff make can be kept.

Many promises begin with good intentions.  And it is okay to realize you can’t keep a promise.  But we must be better stewards of our stuff and our lives and our promises and try not to make those we cannot keep (both to people and to stuff)!  We must also beware the pretty promises that stuff makes when it wants to make its new home with us.

Have you made any unkept promises to your stuff?

7 thoughts on “The clutter of broken promises

  1. Wendy says:

    Nice post. I’ve been paring down on everything since the summer, and re-sold/donated quite a few books. I’m a graduate student, and the very intelligent and well-published professor I assist is also parting with dozens and dozens of books in her library. I’ve brought home at least 15. And, I think your post explains why🙂

    • Caitlin says:

      Books are so hard to get rid of because they make us feel smart, I think. I still have a box of textbooks from undergrad and grad school (assuming my mom hasn’t donated them… she probably has. Oops).

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Drop that Debt says:

    I didn’t use my gym membership for the last year of my schooling. I kept the membership with the promise to myself to go more, but I NEVER had any time. I did eventually cancel it, and now that I’m out of school I go to the gym again all the time. However I could have saved 6 months of gym fees if I had cancelled my other membership earlier!

    • Caitlin says:

      I’m the same with the gym! I hardly went when I had a membership. Now I just walk outside, and I let nature be my gym. No fees, plus I get to look at scenery. We’ll see how long that lasts when it starts snowing though.🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  3. Nicola B says:

    I had loads of art stuff from almost ten years ago and always thought I would use it one day. I have kept simple stuff like paper and pencils and some paint that I think I will actually use. I have donated lots though, including an easel that I used a couple of times but hated…and still kept!

    I’ve also got rid of lots of uni books…and have made a list of those that remain, with the intention of reading through them, and once read they will be keeps or sell/donate. (I have got rid of all of the definite chucks!) if I find a book too boring to finish, I think that is a sign that it goes!

    I think letting go of the stuff and accepting that your life has changed and they are no longer relevant- and it is not a failure to ‘give up’ on running or painting or being academic🙂

    • Caitlin says:

      Good point regarding failure. Lots of people have stuff around that bums them out and makes them feel like a failure. Even if they’re not — and they’re not! — getting rid of the stuff that’s a constant reminder of grand ideas past can be really cleansing. Thanks for commenting!

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