Friday, August 27, 2010

The 100 Thing Challenge

This morning my wonderful wife to be approached me with something called the 100 Thing Challenge. In essence, it's an anti-materialistic approach to living, and the challenge is to limit yourself to 100 things that you own. Some items like Socks and Underwear are considered necessities, and so aren't counted. Shared household items are also not counted. But other individual things like a pencil, a pen, a chair, a clock, and so forth, do get counted, as do individual pieces of clothing. There's an example of someone who's trying this out here. The gist is that people have too much stuff. And it might be nice to learn to live without it and see if happiness is still possible.

I think, in theory, that this is a really cool idea.We've moved twice in the past 2 years... and just renewed out lease in the current place, which made us happy. But we know that once the household adds members that another move will need to take place. And it might be nice to not have to move as much stuff. Fewer books, for instance. Living with less stuff would be nice, too, but as I started listing things this morning, I realized pretty quickly that I have a lot more than I think I do.

Part of the woodworker in me yearns for people to understand that owning fewer things of higher quality is a good idea. I do think that the idea of owning fewer things will open people up to the idea of owning fewer, but better things... and that's my line of work. But the guy in me that just brought home a small pile of tools, and a bench, and so on, feels like this is a little bit of a mean prank.

I don't even want to think about what I have at the woodshop. Technically, it's supposed to be a professional shop. Realistically, I have way more tools than I have a reason to own. Outfitting a shop is a huge undertaking, and there's a really long shopping list. But I still have a lot of stuff.

I'm still interested in giving the challenge a shot, but I think I'm going to have to find clever ways of making some groups or sets into items. "Set of woodworking tools" would have to be one item. "Set of kitchen knives," "Set of pots and pans," and so on. This isn't technically a woodworking-related thread, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I know a lot of woodworkers who have amassed incredible piles of stuff. Tools, unfinished projects, things they keep meaning to get around to doing...

The thought of doing more with less, seems like it'd be really hard to fit into modern woodworking theory as it gets dispensed in the stores and magazines. There's always a shiny new toy to be had.  Between all the hand tools, power tools, bits, blades, jigs, accessories, there's a lot that can take up space. But at the same time, Brian Boggs started out with just a backpack full of hand tools. And even Chris Schwartz, who's known for being the harbinger of shiny and expensive, is hawking the tools he doesn't use anymore on his blog, and even his castoffs are really nice tools. So maybe the trend is starting to take hold...

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