I had a few setbacks to my minimalist lifestyle this month. These setbacks sapped me of energy and made me feel lethargic. This led to me not keeping up cleaning tasks and generally lazing about instead of getting things done. (I’m splitting these setbacks into a small series of posts, today is the first in the series.)
The first major setback was when my wife announced we were buying a china cabinet. I made it very clear that I did not want a china cabinet taking up space in our small apartment. That didn’t sway her, she was set on buying a china cabinet. It felt like a personal betrayal. She is well aware of my minimalist goals to the point where I dedicate a big portion of my time to downsizing, decluttering, and then blogging about it. To me, a china cabinet represents everything that is wrong with society. An extra piece of furniture to display dishes that are never used strikes me as a monument to materialism. It’s not something I wanted in our home.
To her, however, a china cabinet is part of a childhood dream of what a proper upscale home should include. It’s a dream she’s had for a long, long time.
It’s tough to argue against a dream, especially when that dream has been there for such a long time. I argued my case, but she wasn’t swayed. She was set on buying a china cabinet. She had already found the one she wanted on craigslist, and she enlisted the help of her brother, who had a truck and could help us carry it inside.
I didn’t ask anything about what the cabinet looked like. I really didn’t want anything to do with it, and I was shocked to see a hunter green china cabinet when we arrived to make the purchase. Obviously a period piece from the 1990’s when hunter green was the “in” color. When I asked her about it, she told me she was going to paint it. I was so frustrated with the entire situation.
We got it home and she did end up painting it a dark brown color that matched better than the green did.
She’s not really happy with it though, because it doesn’t match our dining set as well as she hoped. To get it to match she would need to strip the paint and stain it instead, something we don’t have the facilities for in our apartment.
At this point she is regretting the decision to buy the china cabinet. I’m not sure if it’s this specific cabinet didn’t meet her expectations, or that she realizes there really isn’t a need for one in the first place.
There is a sentimental aspect at play now too. Her mother has gifted us all our china, usually giving us a few pieces on our anniversary each year. She doesn’t want to disappoint her mother after being so excited to finally display them in a china cabinet.
I’m not sure what will happen next. We may end up trying to resell it in craigslist. I feel bad for her that it didn’t live up to her dream.
The lesson here is something I’ve seen before. We often have dreams that we hang onto for a long time, and we don’t often reevaluate those dreams to see if they still make sense. Sometimes the only way to erase any doubt is to achieve the dream and see how it works out. We did the same thing with the house. The house was a dream, but it wasn’t the best thing for us. We had to try it in order to realize it wasn’t the dream we expected. Sometimes you have to try and fail before you find your way. And sometimes you have to try and succeed to find that success doesn’t mean what you thought it did. It would be great if we could learn lessons from others before us, but often the only way we really learn is through personal experience.