for me i guess it's anywhere from 20 seconds to three weeks. the first might be called 'buyer's remorse'. the minute i have it in my hand the long-for objects seems colorless and crude. it could be something simple, like an apple, or an outrageously expensive watch. the first i eat. the second? it only proves time isn't really valuable!
having come back from traveling, where i lived out of two small backpacks, i have a room and more 'stuff' than i wish. two extra boxes of odds and ends weigh me down. not only that, out in my storage space in the dark and the cold, contending with mice, a dozen boxes of photos and manuscripts drags me down with the past. toss them, i thought the other day. finally commit literary hari-kari.
that ruthless moment passed, after all i'm paid up for a couple of months. i did just throw out six boxes of clothes and cameras. i've given myself permission to save a few books. two hundred boxes scattered all over berkeley four years ago, my contribution to intellectual slavery. and i've saved maybe four cameras. if i added up what i spent on photography in the past fifteen years i would cry.
over a lifetime what have i spent my money on? old vans, trucks, and cars. nothing less than ten years old. supplements and organic food, which saved my life when a car slammed into me in a crosswalk. books - thousands, and i practically stopped reading when i stopped writing. now i have my doubts about any knowledge i might have gained, though i'm looking desperately for a new passion to give me a sense of purpose.
clothes? very little, a matter of last resort and mostly visits to the salvation army. leaving sydney i thought it would be cold as hell in san francisco, buying two dollar shirts and sweaters at the thrift store, and throwing them away when the plane landed, the bay area experiencing summer weather in december and southern california on fire.
i have frittered away any surplus currency buying on line. i beat myself for not being able to live as i did in my twenties, on nothing. now i treat myself saying, 'hey, this old body isn't going to last that long. comfort is okay!' and i used to think comfort a mortal sin. (part of me still does, yet i never regret a hot shower in the morning on the road, especially in third world countries. it keeps me from throwing myself into a mine-shaft.)
yes, here at the end i ask myself what did i spend my money on? not a house or high-maintainance women, though i now think i should have showered the latter with luxury instead of being so cheap. no children, my family in debt the whole time i was growing up. that taught me having a family meant doing a lot of things i didn't want to do, and i'm sure my kids would have been drug-addicts and near-do-wells. alas, maybe all of that spending would have bought me happiness, while being thrifty just keeps me out of trouble.