I recently read a book called The Year of Living Biblically, in which the author recounts his attempt to live as near to the Bible's teachings as possible. He stops eating pork & starts growing his beard. He even throws a few pebbles at his friend who is having an affair because the Bible says we should stone adulterers. His friends bring up the question: What is the purpose of doing something like this? It's a good question.
Disconnected, a short documentary put together by a group of college students hits on a similar theme. They try to spend five weeks without using a computer. At times, it's difficult & frustrating for the students, especially when a research paper is due. During their experiment, their friends ask: Why go computer-free? It's not a real-life scenario - you will never be the only one without access to a computer. Another good question.
It made me think of my (as yet unsuccessful) attempt at owning only 100 things. When my friend Michael was in Shanghai last month, I showed him my apartment. His comment: "100 things, huh?"
Right. So what's the point of me trying to reduce my possessions? It's not a realistic scenario, & 100 is an arbitrary number. All true.
But these kinds of experiments have a greater purpose: to become aware of how things affect us. A year of living by the Bible might have been interesting - a bit quirky, & sometimes annoying for friends - but at the end of that year, the author suggested that he felt like a nicer person, & that he was much more accepting of other people's religious beliefs. The students who spent five weeks without a computer are now more aware of just how much time they spend with their laptops, & probably are more likely to step away from them when they're just killing time.
As for me, I haven't reached 100 things yet - not even close. But as I continue to strive towards that goal, I make smarter buying decisions, I look for ways to consolodate my stuff, & I'm much more aware of how much of our stuff is just stuff. It's all part of the process of awareness.