Thursday, May 14, 2009

You Really Should Have Read This By Now

I have decided to begin the overwhelming task of shedding our possessions by giving away our magazines. (Baby steps.) This has led me to several realizations:

1. We have a lot of magazines.
2. We have a lot of magazines no one has ever read
3. Reading magazines makes me want to buy things
4. Reading certain magazines makes me feel inadequate
5. Despite my best intentions I will never read our back issues of National Geographic
6. The magazines in our collection fall into two general categories: a. Magazines that make you want to spend money and make you feel inadequate and b. Magazines that make you want to know more and make you feel inadequate

"YOUR LIFE WON'T BE COMPLETE UNTIL IT LOOKS LIKE THIS"

I stopped buying magazines 9 months ago to save money. I thought I was just saving money on the cover price, but what I didn't realize at the time is that by eliminating magazines I was drying up the main source of my wanting, therefore saving a whole lot more.

Take Dwell, for example. I love Dwell magazine. The images, the homes, the stories, the ideas it would inspire... but I could never shake the fantasy it sparked. The fantasy and dream for a better life.

What I didn't realize until I stopped reading Dwell is that looking at the perfect images of other people's homes and furniture made me feel lacking. Our home wouldn't be complete until I replaced the living room furniture with that (incredibly expensive) Ligne Roset sofa I saw or until we installed solar panels on the roof. Until we renovated our 2nd bathroom and installed a rain shower head in the first. I compared my life to the lives I saw in those pages and always felt inferior. The luster of our home would lesson each time.

After closing an issue I would look around our house and just feel, ugh. That rug needs to go. Look at our dining room table... it's so boring compared to that oblong white marble table I saw in Dwell.

Now that I don't read magazines anymore, I no longer fixate on things I don't have but feel for some reason I must. The fantasy of a 'perfect' life no longer haunts me because I love the life I have- for everything it is and everything it isn't.

The other day I picked up a magazine in the check out line at Ralph's. It was an issue of Lucky. And I saw clothes. Lots of clothes. Suddenly I was struck by a familiar feeling of wanting. Needing. Lacking. I quickly put the magazine down, turned and walked away.

Other magazines in our collection that fall into the Your Life Won't be Complete Until it Looks Like This category:

Sunset
Domino
(now defunct)
Los Angeles
Budget Travel
(oh, the places we haven't seen)
Metropolitan Home

"YOU REALLY SHOULD HAVE READ THIS BY NOW"

Magazines in our house that fall into the You Really Should Have Read This By Now category include:

The Paris Review
Story
Glimmer Train
Zoetrope
National Geographic
Written By
Robot
Inventor's Digest
Seed
Wired
Good

I OBVIOUSLY should have read these magazines by now. The literary journals especially. That's why I bought them. Years ago. Every time I look at them on my bookshelf I consider picking one up to read one of the short stories within. But there's always another day. These journals are so old that one of them is now defunct (Story.) How sad is that?!

If we read every issue of National Geographic that we have in our stack, we would be two extremely knowledgeable, well-informed people. Our lives, I'm sure, would be enriched considerably by the stories contained within those pages. But we don't read them. Ever. So I keep them... hoping that we will. Feeling like we should. One day.

Inventor's Digest? I subscribed to that one for research on a play. It's a great magazine but I've fallen behind and think one day I'll have time to catch up. But I don't. Robot Magazine? That's Bob's. He got a subscription for Christmas one year and I doubt he's read even one issue. Good magazine? I have no idea. It looks... well, good. I should read it. It was a premium for subscribing to KCRW... I always intended to read it...

You get the point. I've been reluctant to toss away this treasure chest of information. So instead they've sat collecting dust on our bookshelves and their presence only reminds me of all the things I haven't done (in life) but should. All the things I don't know but could if only I took the time. But I don't. And now it's time for them to go. All of them.

Dwell is the first to go. I found a good home for them. Next? That depends.

Anyone out there have an interest in robotics?

3 Comments:

Anonymous said...

You are so right!!! Magazines leave me feeling I should be thinner, prettier, and richer. And that's with only 1 subscription : )

Polly said...

I have a similar issue. I have Yoga Journal, and it falls under the "You should have read this by now and tried all the stuff in it" category. I practice yoga regularly, but I don't read them "on time" so they sit there! Thanks for helping me realize it's OK to let them go.. Someone else will gain something from them. And I can always go read the articles online or at the library.

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