This book (7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess) by Jen Hatmaker was a unique read for me. Although I was interested in the subject, I picked this out of my library stack first because I was fairly certain I’d give up on it and be able to move on to the other books in my stack (seven, to be exact). I was wrong.
Instead, I stayed up an hour later than I normally do for a couple nights to keep reading. I love the humor, I love the bluntness, I love the perspective…and I also love that she’s a coffee addict to the degree that I am:
“The only possible way I could act more disturbing is if I ground up some beans, made a line with a razor blade, and snorted it in the middle of aisle 9. My gosh. I think I have a problem. A friend asked if I was quitting coffee after this month was up. I told her I’d considered renouncing coffee exactly zero times, and if she ever brought up such foolishness again, I was going to quit her. Yeah. I definitely have a problem.” (pg. 34)
I’m not sure that I could fully buy into or embark on this concept in the way that I could with The Happiness Project. That being said, it’s a theory that made a lot of sense to me and there are ways I would like to make small changes in that direction.
During her first month she limits herself to seven foods. Seven. Props to her for making it through the month! But then when I stop to think about it…couldn’t I benefit from scaling back? How many random ingredients have I bought because I’m always on a quest to find a new recipe? How much food have I thrown out because I didn’t end up liking it or it went bad before I could do something with it? It’s more than I care to count.
That’s what set the stage for the rest of the memoir for me. It forced me to take a closer look at my possessions and spending habits (I even counted my clothes like the author did, though I probably should have done that before I bought three new shirts yesterday…). I think the author pointed out perspectives I’ve probably thought about, but only for about five sections before rationalizing another purchase.
“Vast consumption is so ordinary that its absence was shocking. I didn’t realize how casually I ‘grab lunch’ or ‘run through the bookstore’ or ‘pick up that little scarf.’ I admit” I have a compulsion to buy something somewhere. My craving is nonspecific; it just involves being in a store or restaurant and handing my debit card over and getting something back.” (pg. 175)
Ultimately, the book is about removing the excess and putting your life back into perspective. Even things like too much time spent in front of the television or computer. Instead of watching another episode of The West Wing (my current obsession, albeit I’m a bit late to the party), I could read two chapters in a book or take Hurley for an evening stroll.
As even my post may suggest, at times the book can get a little preachy and toward the end I wasn’t as invested in the book. But I do appreciate that even the author admits we’re all human. There are times where I’m going to be a bit reckless in how I spend my time (hello, lazy Sunday!) or money (did I mention the three shirts I bought yesterday?). It’s not so much about striving for perfection as it is being more conscious of our choices.
If nothing else, that’s what this book did for me. Sometimes less is more, and I need to remember that from time to time (though I should have took that to heart on the 4th of July when I showed up with two side dishes, two fruit options and dessert for five people…).