Usually I start the New Year like many people do, full of resolutions, creative visions and goals I want to achieve that year. For me though, every new creative venture or fitness regime though comes the obligatory acquisition of lots of new gear and tools to facilitate said new hobby.
I’m lucky in that my birthday is Valentine’s Day and so I’ve got the perfect excuse to acquire a shed load (literally) of equipment to get me on my way. In the past it has been paints, canvases, easels, weights, yoga mats, yoga blocks, a new guitar (one isn’t enough, two is okay, three is getting there…), camera, camera lenses (plural), camera bag, tripods (plural). On top of that I’ve got a pile of unread books (both a physical and a digital pile) and a couple of courses I’ve subscribed to that I’m not making great progress with either.
The problem with acquiring ‘stuff’ is that it is both an experience of pain and pleasure at the same time. The pleasure of the pre-purchase or the ‘browse’ is highly addictive. I am a professional browser. If it were possible I would have a Masters Degree in browsing.
I do all the research, read reviews online, I visit physical stores and I ask lots of great questions. Inside of me though I’m driven by this maniacal need for having it NOW, regardless of whatever the current fascination is with me.
So if I’ve decided I need a new lens for my camera, which could have been inspired by as little as just a sentence in a blog post, then I need it IMMEDIATELY. All my existing photography equipment instantly feels totally inadequate. I need that new lens NOW, NOW, NOW! The justifications in my mind begin to kick in and every one of them builds stronger on the pro-purchase argument.
Yay, the internal Board Of Directors have voted unanimously to approve the purchase!
With all the research done, a few clicks later (one-click if it’s Amazon) and the deal is done. Elation and excitement abound with the knowledge that a new bit of kit will be with me soon enough. That’s when the guilt, shame and fear kick in though. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The manic, crazy desire of Hyde tempered by the saner, more logical Dr Jekyll. Oh well, but just owning that lens is going to make me a World class photographer isn’t it?
Of course the desired object arrives and provides suitable entertainment for a ‘while’ before being partially retired to the cupboard where it must wait until that ‘rainy day’ when it’s acquisition will be fully justified and utilised. Which of course, rarely happens. The shame and guilt of unused items and unread books plays steadily on your mind and the shame and guilt build steadily and hang around you like a stinking dark rain cloud. The only way to relieve this guilt is, to purchase something new to make you feel better – and the cycle continues on and on.
So this year I am determined to concentrate on what I already have and own and make the most of it, before I attempt to add anything new to the resources pile. So that means no new books, no new equipment, no more coats, no more shoes, no more course subscriptions and NO MORE lenses! I’m going to read all those unread books, finish those unfinished courses and make full use of the equipment that I already have. No more excuses, no more purchases.
Less is most definitely more for me this year, and I’m really excited to clear the backlog of books and projects that have been hanging over me and then to be able to start fresh with a healthier approach to acquiring new stuff when I eventually do.