"Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill." --St. Augustine
Buy-Nothing Month is a tradition going back now five years, but not observed* consistently. I was inspired to start in 2012, continued in 2013 and quietly abandoned it for no particular reason in 14/15. This year I'm picking it up again and starting with a meditation on what this "holiday" means to me.
To recap, BNM is an arbitrary period of time--traditionally February--when I don't spend anything on myself beyond our regular bills and basic survival (e.g. groceries OK, restaurants no way). The truth is, since Jenna handles our budget and does shopping for the family, there's no reason outside of an emergency that I have to touch any money all month. Because I secretly feel like I could be a monk, this is one of a few ways I practice a small part of their lifestyle for a short while. And you know what? It feels great.
When I give up acquiring stuff as a possibility, the result is deeper contentment with my life. A surprisingly large amount of mental space is freed to concentrate on other thoughts instead of planning my next purchase. I appreciate what I have. Turns out, it's not the physical act of not-buying that produces these results, as much as breaking the hedonic treadmill that drives most of our lives (related to the Buddhist concept of viparinama-dukkha: the anxiety of holding onto desirable things and frustration of not getting what you want).
In the past when I felt compelled to blog frequently I amused myself by posting drawings of stuff I wanted to buy. That practice turned out to be counter-productive so I quit. This year instead I am supplanting the buying habit with meditation practice. Not very exciting to write about, but of course, that's because calm is the entire point. Peace out everyone.
*I originally wrote "celebrated" there, which is by no means incorrect w/r/t the deeper joy that I often sense during this season, although not quite right to express the tone of my daily life as experienced in the thick of it.