Gifts (Never Buy Me Any)

 

A gift, of any sort, can be considered as useful or not useful to me. Something might ordinarily be useful, but because I already have something I use for that purpose, it is not actually useful to me. I might not have something for a particular purpose, but because I do not do that particular thing very often, my preference is to use my initiative rather than to buy the best product. Should I be given that product, therefore, I am also likely to consider it not useful.

Because I consider that I have everything I need in life, almost every single possible gift is considered not useful. It is therefore surplus to requirements, a waste of time, energy and production, and it is clutter. Even worse, it is deeply, deeply annoying and irritating to me. I am agitated by the receiving of gifts. If I wanted a particular thing, I would buy it. If I do not own a particular thing, there is a reason for it.

I do not like 'things'. I have moved home several times in my life, and each time is an opportunity to remove clutter from my life. I consider it the best part of moving home. At one stage I did not have a home (I am still in that stage), and, for a while, I had all my belongings in storage. I decided that paying for a room to keep things in was wasteful, and I happily called 'Shelter' and had them take almost everything away. It seemed fitting that, as I did not have a home, I should help out others without a home. What could not be given to Shelter was either recycled or destroyed.

All I was left with was clothing, outdoor gear, race medals and computer equipment. I still look at the race medals forlornly, wondering if I really should keep them - perhaps to help inspire my children, should I ever have some - when really I just want to throw them away (the medals, not the children). I know I did the races, and I have write-ups and photographs, and, really, I am not interested in looking at those, so why keep the medals?

I am interested in practical matters of living. I need a level of shelter, food, water, clothing, and warmth. Happiness in my life comes partly from the simplicity of it. I have very basic needs, no great anchors to a particular place in the world, a good deal of freedom, and no care for material possessions. It would be a shame if my clothes, outdoor gear and computer equipment was all stolen or destroyed, because I use them and they would be difficult to replace - requiring time, money and effort - but my attachment is no greater than that.

Practical items are rarely fun. I am rather particular about what I wear, because I am a sponsored athlete. So, I cannot be bought items of clothing. Buying me food is silly, because it is fairly meaningless as a gesture, although I am grateful for food items that have been made. When I was a child, I thought particular toys, games and other items were very important to my happiness, and I was spoiled at Christmas and on my birthday with the number of gifts. Over time, I realised that the items did not actually convey a sense of fun to me directly, and no material possession can make me happy. I began dismissing the idea of presents, and soon stopped giving presents just to drive the point home. Since then, my mother has made a point of making me cakes and biscuits and preserves for Christmas, and that is wonderful to me - there is no waste, no real pollution, and a real demonstration that time, love and care was put into producing the food. I like that.

Buying me drink does not work. I do not want someone to buy me a fine bottle of single malt, for example, because I would rather they bought it for themselves and then shared a dram or two with me. That would be a very pleasant experience, and one worth having.

In short, there is nothing in buying gifts that I find uplifting or pleasant. Happiness does not come to me from gifts, and I have no materialistic tendencies. My mother may continue to make food for me, because I think that it is very sweet gesture, although I cannot confess that it makes me happy in itself. I suppose the happiness comes from the thought of the time, care and love in the preparation, and from the demonstration that this shows what I like and what I really appreciate. It is not the food itself, but the gesture.

All this comes home in November and December, when television adverts are suddenly concentrated on gift items - perfumes, watches and toys, most notably - and on particular shops. No material object can make me happy, and I feel deeply uncomfortable receiving gifts. A gift, to me, is unwanted clutter; something I want to get rid of as soon as I can. If someone wants to show me how much they appreciate me, then we can spend some time together having a positive experience. That, to me, means more than any gift ever could.

The moments when I am given gifts are my low points. They are moments when I am distracted with thoughts of 'what's this?', 'why did you want to give me this?', 'what am I supposed to do with this?', 'I already have something like this', 'I do not need or want this', 'I wonder how soon before I can give this to charity', and 'I wonder if they can tell how unimpressed and annoyed I am that they really do not know me at all'. Such thoughts as those get in the way of what would really increase my happiness at those times, and that will be thoughts of how good it is to see you and how keen I am to spend some time with you.

Let us not detract from this potentially lovely moment by falling back on an unnecessary, cumbersome and unwanted delusion that happiness and good times have anything whatever to do with materialism. When I look back over a day, a season, a year or my life so far, I can reflect on the good times I had, and those good times are about experiences, never things. So, how about we just hang-out together and enjoy each others company, because it is what will make me happy.

 

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