Dumpster diving is not in my agenda–not just yet. Freecycling is. I have just joined the nearest freecycle group to which I offered an enormous leather sofa bed, a legacy from a previous husband who has gone on to a different time zone. The sofa is is too bulky for my taste. Ideally, I would have vintage Scandinavian furniture, a few pieces by Nakashima and not much more. I clung to the husband’s ungainly couch in case paired our friends and relatives came to visit. That has not happened in quite some time and the sofa bed crouches sullenly in too small a room, offending aesthetics and cluttering up the place. Too good to throw away, too ugly to keep, it might be just the thing for a college student who can ignore its appearance. Why give away something you find too ugly to live with? Why, the fact that I find it ugly does not mean that someone might not find it utterly charming. Folks who participate in freecycling seem to focus on utilitarianism, in any case.
I have asked for nothing from my freecycle group. First I must declutter, then I must decide what it is that I really need–I think it would be hard to convince the list owner that Nakashima furniture is essential to my well-being. I might make a list of what is essential to me, beginning with books, but the idea of freecycling is to share what one has in excess.
I have been reading about voluntary simplicity, which seems to have spawned an industry. Amazon.com, for example, lists “voluntary simplicity products”, an oxymoron if ever there was one. That list compelled me to write my first Amazon review or rather, a non-review of Voluntary Simplicity: Responding to Consumer Culture, by Amitai Etzioni and Daniel Doherty.
It incensed to find out that a used copy of this book cost $29, that is, half the cost of my montly water bill. The only possible response was not to buy it.
There are those who point out that voluntary simplicity has nothing to do with saving money. It is a spiritual progress, I understand. My choices are based on enforced frugality, then–nothing spiritual, just the result of a thin wallet that gets thinner every time I fill up the tank of my aging car. Today, it cost $ 44. Tomorrow is anyone’s guess. Am I alone in this? Certainly not. Does it crush me not to have unlimited supplies of disposable income? Heck, no. Crafting a life, in my book, means letting go of the notion that lots of money and status symbols are essential to a good life.
I have a few plans that will enrich me without costing me a penny. First, Vincenzo and I are going to start calling townspeople’s attention to the plight of local wildlife. Vincenzo might visit schools, give interviews and tell people how his fellow boxies are losing their natural habitat.
Next, I will start proofing the first draft of my mystery novel. Third, I continue to work on my garden. Should I have tons of veggies I can share that with the local women’s shelter. Third, I will offer to teach someone a skill–soldering, sewing, baking a cake from scratch, making a container garden. It’s all good.

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