Becoming disentangled from the world is an ongoing struggle. We don’t appreciate how tightly the world has its tendrils around us until we start cutting them away. You’re looking at one of them, for me—the Lamy Safari fountain pen. It has award-winning design and rave reviews, consistently acclaimed as one of the best fountain pens under twenty dollars. I don’t have one.

I have a Pilot Metropolitan, which is also a great pen. I have no dissatisfaction with it. It was also under twenty dollars and it writes great. I wish I could blog with it but, alas, neither of these two pens count words. Because I have one fountain pen already, I cannot justify buying the other. After all, to paraphrase Jesus, “No man can write with two pens. Either he will use the one and ignore the other, or he will use the other and the ink will dry up inside the one.”

This has become an issue of spiritual significance for me. Not that fountain pens are a spiritual thing for me, though I do like writing with mine, a lot. No, it is an issue of curbing greed, of honestly evaluating purchases, though it would probably seem crazy to most people. “It’s only twenty bucks. If you want one, just buy it.” But, so far, I have resisted in spite of them being readily available in Germany. I can think of 4 stores where I could make the purchase within 10 minutes of my house. (Good stationery is something I will miss about Germany.)

Oddly enough, I have bought two of them as gifts for others. Jesus did say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Neither of the recipients owned fountain pens, as far as I know. Now they do.

It’s truly startling how strongly we have been steeped in consumerism. I found myself earlier this week in a local store looking at travel mugs. Here again, I already have one. I have owned it for 13 years. The paint was so worn that a few years ago I took sandpaper to it so it just has a brushed metal finish now, plus a few dents and scratches. It was a gift from some friends and has been with me on three different continents. It still works—it doesn’t leak and it keeps my coffee warm—so after a few minutes in the travel cup aisle, I moved on, empty-handed.

I like to think this is progress and I suppose it is, though it seems like I ought to not even think about buying anything until I need it. I try to be fairly simple and not need too much, though I am far from a minimalist. I have a garage filled with tools and I have more clothes than I need, but I’m learning to resist the greed-monster that is fueled by commercial media. At least I recognize the horrid thing when I see it creeping up on me.


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