I say jumped, and not fell or toppled, because I did it on purpose. It was something I planned and carried out. I bought three new books at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! And I’m so glad I did.
The Festival of Books is one of my favorite L.A. events. Part of it is a chaotic mass of humanity, a big commercial enterprise, and a magnet for crazed fans. But it attracts so many wonderful writers, it’s difficult to decide which panels to go to. And it’s always inspiring to me to listen to writers talk about books and writing. And to be around a bunch of people who love to read.
So I knew I was going to see one of my favorite writers, who’s actually an acquaintance, and I knew I wanted to buy some of his books as gifts for friends. And I did. I want to support the arts in general and the festival in particular, and I wanted to support this writer.
I even consulted the Compact yahoo group to solicit their opinion on the matter. All but one of them were fully in favor of supporting the arts in general and local arts in particular. The one who dissented said that while she respected their opinions, The Compact was about not buying new, and therefore even if it was a good cause, it was still technically a violation. I actually think she’s right, in which case I can either make this an exception to my Compact rules, or I can just say I goofed. Either way, I’m comfortable with it.
I’m going to think about this and decide how I feel about supporting the arts/buying local and handmade crafts, etc. It seems even The Compact members are split on the issue. I feel like I could probably last the year abiding by the strict interpretation, but since I’ve actually started to think I might be able to do this indefinitely, in that case I would definitely want to support local artists and writers.
The last time I wrote about falling off the wagon was when I bought a Congratulations card for a coworker who had just passed his citizenship test. And the first time I fell off the wagon, way back in January, was when I absolutely had to have gloves for the Jane Austen Ball. So almost four months into this experiment, I’ve only bought something new that wasn’t on my exception list 3 times. And each time I would make the same decision if I had the chance to do it over.
I’m really happy that I supported the festival and my friend and also have 3 excellent holiday gifts already taken care of (signed copies with personal notes). But part of me wonders about the value of making a commitment and then rationalizing why I broke it. Is it a little bit like telling my husband I couldn’t help myself if I happened to meet Colin Firth and he had his way with me? What do you think? Please share your thoughts and opinions in the Comments section.