Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Unfinished Life

Strawberry Heart has no relation to this post.  

In the dark medicine cabinet of my charmingly outdated blue tiled bathroom, a ¼ tube of Colgate toothpaste lies in wait. Beside the Colgate, practically bragging about its superior performance and obviously preferred status, a new nearly full tube of a different formula boasts. The ¼ tube has been waiting to be cradled in my hand since the new tube arrived, but like the iPhone 2, its worth declined substantially when the replacement arrived. This sad relationship is replicated other places in my apartment - the miniscule remnants of a container of Smart Balance resting a shelf below a recently christened tub of Country Crock; the un-pumpable inch of Vaseline Intensive care lotion, deemed useless at the arrival of St. Ives creamy relief. 

My preemptive purchases of replacement household items almost always results in the abandonment of the last 15% of its predecessor.  I don’t want to finish the first item, and find myself without. I buy in advance.
Worst of all, this habit spills over into my relationship with books. As a public transportation commuter, with a busy extracurricular schedule, I'm often carrying yoga clothes and mat, breakfast, coffee, lunch, a book for writing, and a book for reading.

I try to eliminate unnecessary items from my luggage. Sometimes, when the bag is too full I forgo lunch and opt to buy.  Or I leave my two-inch hard cover writing book at home and carry a smaller moleskin. Sometimes, if I’m in the last 20-40 pages of a book, and I know I’m going to be on the train for and hour or more, I have to make a decision. I either bring a second book to replace the first when I finish it (and increase my load), or I leave the denouement on the coffee table and start fresh with a new book. I promise to return. I promise to finish those remaining pages and return the book to its subject matter- arranged crate having fulfilled its journey.

In full disclosure, I usually leave the book behind. And I usually don’t return. In at least half of the books I have read in the past year I left the last 20-40 pages unread. Those books eventually get returned to their spaces, like the butter that eventually goes in the trash when I determine it’s probably not safe to consume.
Those 20-40 pages will still be there if I ever decide to return, but the toothpaste and lotion won’t.

Which behavior is more wasteful?

No comments: