While I have been considered a writer since I was eight years old, what I have written has changed dramatically over time.
When I was very young, I was only interested in writing stories. These stories were childlike, sure, but they grew in their development as did I. In middle school, I was crafting large chunks of fantasy novels (imitation of books I tended to read at the time). Then, in high school, I discovered a love for poetry.
In high school and college, I mostly wrote poetry. Some of them were good, too. (Seriously!) I won contests and scholarships with my poetry, some of which I’ve even seen printed in small magazines.
But somewhere along the way, I stopped writing poems. I’ve written a few songs with friends over the years, but that’s really it. The part of me that is a poet – a part that used to be an integral part – seems to no longer exist.
Anyway, today it occurred to me that stopping spending that I set for myself in 2021 is in some way similar to writing poetry. Let me explain.
You see, part of cheerful Writing poetry – for me, anyway – is discovering how to express yourself while adhering to the rules. And the “rules of poetry” are not fixed. Each poet sets his own criteria. Moreover, these rules may change from one poem to another.
Take Shakespeare, for example. Shakespeare’s sonnets follow a specific format.
- Each sonnet contains fourteen lines.
- These 14 lines are divided into four groups: three four-line quatrains and the last two-line quatrains.
- Each line contains ten iambic syllables.
These rules are part of what makes Shakespeare’s poems so attractive. He was able to express himself, and convey a great deal of emotion, while playing by these rules. If you rewrite Shakespeare’s sonnet without rules, it loses its beauty. (Fun fact: One of my favorite Shakespearean sonnets uses money metaphors!)
On the other hand, Cummings played a different set of rules. “A Person Who Lives in a Beautiful Town” is still one of my favorite poems, but it is very different from Shakespeare’s.
For many young poets, the rules are frustrating. They feel a limit to creativity rather than a source of inspiration. As a result, we often stick to the free verse, which seems less restrictive.
When I was writing poetry, I found that it gave myself the rules take care instead of strangling him. This is kind of a hunch, I think, but it’s true. It’s a fun challenge to see what you can create when your options are restricted.
To this day, I find that I (in general) admire poets who work with meter and rhyme more than those who produce free poetry. (This is not always true. There are plenty of great poems written in free verse. But all things being equal, I tend to prefer the poem with structure over the poem without it.)
Why is this raised? What does this have to do with personal finance? How does this relate to my spending stops?
For the past week, I’ve been in deep meditation. I don’t suffer from chronic anxiety and depression (cool!) but I A.m I ask myself deep questions about what I should do with my future, and try to figure out how to prevent depression and anxiety from returning. As part of that, I’ve been reading about mindfulness and meditation.
While I’m talking to friends about this, they’ve been recommending books. Researching these books leads me to discover other books. Reading articles online about mindfulness makes me want to read more books. And if I don’t stop spending right now, I’ll allow myself to buy some of these books.
Fortunately, this is not a new interest for me. In the past, I’ve wanted to learn more about mindfulness and meditation, so I’ve picked up probably dozens of books on the topic(s) over the years. They’ve collected dust in my library.
Now, in 2021, some of these books are titles I’ve decided I want to read. Yes, there are two books that I don’t own that sound really interesting to me and I’d like to buy them. But I can not. Or, more precisely, I won’t. Because I’m stopping spending for 2021.
In retrospect, you may have found this frustrating. For now, though, it’s kind of liberating.
stop spending my doing exactly what he intends to do. It forces me to look inward, searching my current library, instead of heading outside and ordering more books. Asking for new books won’t solve anything anyway. They will end up just like the books I already own: unread on my bookshelves.
But because of the artificial structure I imposed upon myself, I was forced to get creative, be resourceful, and work with what I had. I started reading books on my bookshelf. Yay!
This is very similar to writing poetry in light of a set of specific rules. And you know what? The results turned out to be the same, too.
When rules bring freedom
Yesterday, I started reading waking up by Sam Harris. Holy cats, guys. This is it exactly The book I need for this moment in my life. It is one I already own. Amazon says I bought the book in 2015 but only started reading it yesterday morning. crazy things.
But I only read waking up Now because of my spending stop rules. I scrolled through my (digital) bookshelf and that book popped up. If I wasn’t playing by those rules now, I wouldn’t have read anything yet. I’ll be waiting for new books to come from Amazon.
The same was true with my leisure reading. I ran out of Jean le Carré novels, so I had to look for something else. I just couldn’t order Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. Instead, I decided to work on my science fiction paperback writing one by one. (I will look for it reformer in the public library.)
Plus, the spending suspension leads me to get creative in other areas of my life.
On a larger level, it is interesting to think about the implications here. I say I value poetry more when it is bound by rules, when the poet is not free to do as she pleases. I’m also saying that I kind of like the fact that my book choices are currently limited to what I have.
My frustration at not being able to buy a new book lasts for about thirty seconds, and then I turn my attention to the options available. These options are fewer, but I feel no less happy. (So far, anyway).
Perhaps this should not be surprising. This is, after all, a thesis The paradox of choice Written by Barry Schwartz. argue that we Think We want more options, but we don’t really want that. When we have more choices, the choice becomes more difficult because we are afraid of not making the ‘right’ decision. (Even if there is no “right” decision).
In a very realistic way, the rules bring freedom – with poetry and spending.
margin: This reminds me of the rules I set for myself when trying to get fit. A decade ago, I created a short document on “acceptable” foods. These, in essence, are my rules for healthy eating. When I’m in good shape with my fitness, it’s usually because I’m sticking to these guidelines. I allow myself to eat anything I want it as long as it’s healthy, as long as it follows the rules of my food. Cakes for breakfast? No, this is against the rules. Fish filet for breakfast? This does not break the rules. Let’s do it! It seems silly but it works.