We can’t deny that we have so much things to get about in life today. Some of those we need, others we “need”, and others yet we simply want. But regardless, there’s one commonality I’d like us to reflect on for this post. Do we take good care of our stuff?
We handle many of our things everyday, no doubt about it. From watches to phones and even our bags, so much pass through our hands that we may sometimes overlook the need to, in the words of Article 1163 of the Philippine Civil Code, exercise “the proper diligence of a good father of a family”.
For it is a part of personal social responsibility to take care of our things. No, it is not being materialistic or worldly to exert just a little more effort to help ensure nothing happens to them. By taking care of them, we show that we are thankful for the privilege and blessing of actually having the opportunity to be in the possession, however temporary or permanent, of a thing – especially when it is just gifted to us by a loved one. However indirectly, we show respect for the manufacturer or producer – and even the seller – of the item, that we hold their creations – or hard-acquired stock – in high regard.
That said, I have several tips on taking good care of one’s things, and I write this as a daily reminder to myself as well.
1. Be Gentle
I find that a gentleman – or gentlewoman – is such, not just in the manner he conducts himself – personal good governance! – but also how he interacts with his environment, living or not. Taking care of his things is one of these facets.
For example, whenever you come home from a long day and begin the process of relaxing and unwinding for the evening, how do you put away your watch? Do you properly extract it from your wrist and gently place it on the table or wherever, or do you simply strip it off and hurl it onto the bed or rather carelessly dump it on a potentially damaging hard surface? And, even before that, during the day itself, do you take care to not carelessly swing your arms so as not to keep hitting the face of the watch on doors, posts, and the like?
I have to admit that while I take care of how I remove and place my watch on my table at home – the pictures above are my own – I am not as careful outside, as I frequently bump my watch on wherever.
Sure, we may sometimes throw our things unceremoniously on soft surfaces like beds, because we can be lazy to put them away carefully. Phones are another good example of this; after responding to hundreds of work emails and we simply want to let go of it – if only momentarily – we just toss it aside until we need them again. But this reinforces a dangerous habit of throwing things figuratively and literally – and the repercussions can be severe. For example, we might unconsciously hurl a prized possession, forgetting that we are doing so on a hard, glass table. Or, we stand to be impolite to others whenever they ask us to give them something by throwing it at them.
And it’s not just placement of things, it’s how we use them. This I admit I have shortcomings in – I keep my laptop on for more than twenty-four hours at times, for instance. We are either so caught up in a web of multitasking or we want things done now that we forget that we are pushing things to the limit, perhaps even stretching them. Remember that things are not humans and they can only take so much before breaking (well, humans, too, but we’re more flexible). The way we hold a phone or pen, the amount of tasks we load a tablet computer with, the strength we turn a key with (there was a time that I turned the key to our front gate too strongly and it broke in my hand – a very difficult time that was)… All these should actually be given attention to if we don’t want to end up spending more money to buy a replacement or have it repaired.
2. I’ll Remember
…Okay, that wasn’t what I meant. Hoping you’re still awake! 😀
Sometimes, when we have lots of things, we tend to misplace the others. This can happen if there’s a lot on our minds, and we absentmindedly put this in that. Then, a few moments later, when we look for it, we panic because we thought we placed it in point A when it was in point B – and then we don’t recall putting it there in the first place. Again, the mobile phone is always a victim of this, based on experience.
I know a great book by professional organizer Marilyn Bohn called Go Organize!. It’s a handy guide for home organization, and it teaches substance over style – basically, you organize not to make it look good (although that’s a clear bonus), but to make it functional. You organize so that you better recall where things are, not for the sake of organization itself. That said, clearly designating places for your things – both the ones you constantly use and not – and taking the small step to sticking to it, work wonders.
3. To Use or Not to Use, That is the Question
Forget needs versus wants first. For now, think of whether or not you’ll actually be using something. Enter this mindset especially when going shopping. However much of a bargain it is, however attractive it is, bottom line is if you will not be using it, then don’t even think of buying it. This is another of Bohn’s philosophies restated – she is for tossing out (not literally, but donating or selling or the like) things that aren’t even used once in a blue moon.
It sounds ironic. Isn’t not using something actually a way of caring for it more precisely because it’s not being used as much? Precisely because we don’t use it, we’re not caring for it. We don’t care about the money we used to buy the thing, or in the case of it being a gift, we don’t care about the person who gave it. Of course, it’s inevitable that we receive gifts we don’t like or need, but that’s another matter…
We tend to make excuses. “Oh, but that looks so good with this!” Or, “I know I’ll be needing it, this is too good a chance to pass up!” Okay, if we know we need it, then we prove it – and not for the sake of buying it. Here’s where the danger of materialism arises: we might become hoarders, and we end up making things difficult for ourselves because we have to sift through so much more things at home, or similar.
When we join the bandwagon or buy for the sake of buying, we don’t respect ourselves, nor do we respect the seller and/or manufacturer. We give them high hopes that they’re changing our lives with their product, but we don’t even use it. Meanwhile, we convince ourselves that it’s a good buy, but who are we kidding?
Never mind that something is expensive, such as a pair of high-quality shoes. (In fact, that’s better, but that’s another subject.) Will one use it? Regularly? Then it’s worth it even with the massive amount paid. Never mind that he bought something for 5% of its full price. But he doesn’t even give a thought about it once he gets home. He has wasted his money, no matter how little he shelled out.
Of course, regulating the things we do use is something else altogether – and I think I’ll write about it next time. But this is a good place to start…