Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Spend it like the 70s 6: Je ne regrette rien (ish)

There was an article in the Guardian last week called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Look it up; it's interesting. Bronnie Ware, an Australian nurse wrote it after she'd spent time working with people in the last 12 weeks of their lives and realised that there were common themes that kept coming up.

One of them was "I wish I hadn't worked so hard." Then there was, "I wish I'd allowed myself to be happier." They are related, I imagine, in most cases. How much time do we spend worrying not just about working hard, but being seen to be working hard? Who are we trying to impress? What good does it do?
I spent 13 years with one company, writing so hard that my fingerprints wore off. They didn't notice. They just thought it was normal.They thought that was what I was like. I don't regret that though. I learned lots and got quite good at writing and there's still time to put it to better use. But I do question why I bothered trying to impress the people who wrote the cheques. Probably because they kept promising me that great rewards awaited me, but it turns out they didn't.

Anyway, people were adding their comments to the article using Facebook, saying what they thought their own last regrets would be. I thought about how I'd feel if I found out I only had twelve weeks left and I wrote:

"I'd wish that I hadn't aquired so much stuff that people were going to have to tidy up, and that I'd spent the money on travelling instead."

In two days I got 56 "likes" and a reply that said, "sell ur stuff and go travelling now" from Emma Butterfly Walsh. That got 32 "likes. My answer, "Emma Butterfly Walsh, I will" has had 44 and a request for me to post the pictures and keep everyone updated.

So this week I searched among my books for ones I thought might be worth more than Amazon's default £0.01 and put a load of them up for sale. They can stay there until I get tired of them. The ones that were selling for £0.01, I decided to take to the Oxfam book shop. Even if it doesn't help my travel fund (currently needed retrospectively to pay off October's Japan trip) it'll be less to do for the people who'll have to tidy up when I pop my clogs.

How lovely would it be for all our nieces and nephews to walk into a tidy clean house, keep a few beautiful things and not have to spend months gasping in frustration as they open another box full of my "interesting" things. I mean, I do like to have several colours of sealing wax handy for just in case, but most people can manage without.

I've also assembled 18 stackable cubes for putting stuff in while it's in transition. They are my in-boxes and out-boxes. A white one is my photography studio; it's great for eBay pictures. I shot a load of stuff yesterday reading for putting up next week. (This week I've got real work and when you're freelance, you take it while it's there.)

Two cubes are taken up with first editions of magazines and newspapers from the 1980s and 1990s, including a Judge Dred which should fetch me £50. (Woo hoo!) The rest are probably worth about fourpence each. Let me know if you're interested.

As a nation, we've not grown any happier since the 70s, despite all the extra things we've all got. I'd be interested to see if I get happier as I empty the boxes, the cupboards and the bookshelves.

PS And where it went wrong.
I'm easily distracted by lovely things, I confess this openly.
For Christmas Mr Tuesdays got me a day out perfume sniffing at a perfume shop. Was that wise? Anyway, I bought perfume. I also discovered that you can snap up many beautiful vintage scents, that are no longer made, on eBay (particularly if you speak French and go to eBay.fr) and Etsy. So now I have a box full of vintage Je Reviens, Chantilly by Houbigant, Soir de Paris and Diorella 70s edition. My 1970s Bal a Versailles is on its way. I also bought 288 2ml bottles (they come in packs of 288) and I'm going to share my treasure a tiny bit at a time with the perfume sniffing fraternity, but it does take up a bit of space.
I have one good excuse. I really am writing a book about it. Promise.


  1. I read that article too Sarah, and it resonated with me also, particularly the work bit, "Who am I trying to impress? Them? Myself?" I'm trying at the minute to be happier and worry less too. Something I need to master! In some respects, I can't wait to get older, all I hear is how wiser and you give a damn less about the small things.

    Good for you selling your stuff and going off and experiencing the world, something tells me though you're already good at that ;)

  2. I am about to seek and learn more about this kind of project.

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