How old colored pencils can teach us to care
Kids are forgetful. That's in their nature: they are too busy playing. So my daughter lost her nice wooden colored pencils during our summer trip. a few weeks ago, I found my precious colored pencils box, the only gift I remember receiving from my godfather, and decided that it was time to give them to her.
She brought a few of them at school and her teacher noticed them. The teacher asked my daughter how long we have had this box and she answered, unknowingly, 10 years... Well that is a long time but she was not quite there in her guesstimate. I have own these pencils for over 30 years! The teacher jumped on the occasion and used this example as a lesson to her students about attending to pencils, among other things and being mindful of how they use them in the classroom. They did the math of how much the class fund would be needed to pay for a box of 12 for each child. They all realized it was quite pricey to get this specific high quality brand, especially if you don't take good care of them!
My mother taught me how to really take care of things. Quite frankly, we all know that better quality also means durability. I said to my daughter that it would not make sense to buy this brand at school if students are not mindful with the school's belongings.
Being mindful and thoughtful is a demonstration of respect. Respect for the item itself, but as well as for the raw material that was extracted from the earth to make it, the workers who give out of their time- and sometimes even their health into making a product, or the thoughtful gesture of a friend who bought it for us. Nowadays, it is easy to find product replacement anytime anywhere, and for such a low price that we don't bother taking care, repairing, maintaining, etc.
I learned the opposite as a child. When a piece of clothing was no longer in good shape to wear, the garbage was not an option. My mom would sit at the kitchen table and remove buttons, zippers, elastic and if possible, would make rags with the fabric. We had a tin box for each of these accessories and this was our own notions store!
To this day, I kept doing the same thing when some garments are way to hold to send to my friends as hands-me-down. When my mother was a child, this habit existed out of financial necessity. When I dismantle a piece of garment, I do it out of this sense of interconnectedness with all there is and the respect I have for our Mother Earth. Because we have so many choices and we live in abundance, we rarely consciously take the time to attend to our belongings any more. It makes me really sad.
If we would see the divine in everything, including our stuff, our world would be in such a better shape. A society that is solely based on consumption is not in line with the universal laws of nature. We have lost this necessary connection and because of that, so many choices are made daily without any thoughts about their consequences. Of course, creating such a habit in our family takes time and commitment. This is a reflection of such a greater purpose and change of perspective.
Once we start acting out of reverence for this world, it seems like there is no way we can go back to our former habit. What may have looked like a sacrifice of our time may be then perceived as a meditation in action on how we live. We feel that we share with others the responsibility for the use of the earth resources and acknowledge other people’s use of their time too. What a wonderful lesson to cultivate with our children! How does this apply to your household? Which habits have you created that reflect this innermost respect for things? What is your motivation behind these habits?