On the lost art of blackberry picking or: how I’m learning to live a simpler life

If money was no object, what would you do?

We have just returned from a holiday in Spain, something that always makes my mortgage free dreams feel more urgent (who wouldn’t rather spend their income on trips abroad?) and I noticed that the blackberry bushes that overhang our back garden had suddenly burst into fruit. After a short while my freezer was overflowing with bags of these gorgeous berries, and will be used in overnight oats for months to come now. Frugal, healthy and just lovely. Now, my walk home from the train station passes by lots of blackberry bushes and so I usually stop and fill that day’s empty lunchbox with more fruit – but I have noticed more and more of the berries turning mouldy on the branches before I can pick them. What happened to children heading out with bowls to forage fruit for a crumble, returning with berry stained mouths and scratched hands? It’s certainly a fond memory of mine from childhood. And yet we see boxes of berries in the supermarkets, perfect and glistening but with a price tag that stings more than the nettles that surround the juiciest bounty. We have lost the skill of eating in season, of enjoying what nature has to offer, in favour of chilled perfection from metal shelves. And as an extension of this, we have lost the ability to differentiate between things we need and things we want – things that will be added to the piles in our houses, scratching an itch for a short time until the need to ‘treat ourselves’; becomes too great again.

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Delicious blackberries!

I have been reading today about the Diderot Effect. In short, this is what happens when you buy something new, then realise you ‘need’ lots of other new things to go with it. I am as guilty as anyone of this – recently my son has decided he likes Star Wars and so I bought him the box set of the original films to watch. However, then he wanted more so we bought the newer trilogy. Then we bought the new film. Then we bought him some action figures. Then I stopped and said to myself, how much does he actually need all of this? And so off we went to the library where we took out a Star Wars ManiaStar Wars crafting book *, came home and hunkered down with the junk box, and made several awesome Star Wars toys ourselves. He was happy, I was happy, and the action figures certainly weren’t happy as they languished unloved in the toy box.

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My awesome AT-AT puppet, made from toilet roll tubes, straws and LOADS of duct tape!

So my challenge to you today is this. Next time you’re in a shop, ask yourself “why am I buying this?”. If the answer is “because I want it” not “because I need it”, put it down and walk away. If we do this over and over again eventually we will be able to more easily tune into our immediate wants and realise that buying that thing takes us one step further away from our true desires. My desire? It’s certainly not to be drowning in toys but to be able to spend a greater amount of time in Spain, knowing my house is paid for and my son is set up for his future.

What’s your true desire? And how will you get that step closer today? Let me know in the comments. 

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