One is Enough

This morning in the shower I was using my shower cap, the only shower cap I own. I started thinking about how I only needed one shower cap, since I can always find it (it lives under the sink with the towels), it’s unlikely to fall apart any time soon, and I could walk to the drugstore in five minutes to get a new one if necessary.

That got me thinking about how people often feel the need to have backups of things, in case something gets lost, breaks, or just runs out (in the case of consumables). And I wondered what other things I only have one of. I’m not talking about big-ticket items like a house, computer, or car. But I’m thinking of the kinds of things that someone might be tempted to own extras of “just in case.”

So here are some things I only have one of:

  • Purse
  • Pair of glasses in my current prescription (I save the most recent old pair as backup)
  • Pair of sneakers
  • Nail clippers
  • TV
  • Wristwatch
  • Comb
  • Bathmat (although I’d like to get one more so I could have one in the laundry and still have one to use)
  • My iPhone has eliminated the need for a digital camera, alarm clock, notepad, and GPS (can I have negative numbers of things??)
  • Cat brush (for two cats)
  • One face powder container, one mascara brush (I have two eyeliners but I mostly just use one).
  • Floor mop
  • Fever thermometer

I’m sure there are more, but that’s just a few things off the top of my head. I’m curious to know what you only have one of, even though a person might easily have multiples.

[Later edit] I’m thinking about the psychology of “only having one,” and I think it comes down to a matter of trust in the universe, and in your own strength.

When you put all your eggs in one basket, you become vulnerable. If you lose that one thing, you lose it all. But the important question is, “and then what?”

Being completely out of toilet paper really sucks, especially if you discover this while on the toilet. But doubtless it has happened on more than one occasion to the people reading this, and life has gone on. Your source of strength is your self, not your stuff. Also, to have only one of a thing implies a trust and faith that after a thing is lost, broken, or runs out, that it can then be fixed, recovered, re-bought, (without damaging expense), or re-found.

If something is vital to one’s survival, then of course having some extras makes sense. My daughter’s diabetic friend recently misplaced her blood sugar testing kit at our house, but she had a backup one at home that she could use until we found it. Anyway, moving on….

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2 thoughts on “One is Enough

  1. I’m liable to keep lots of extra consumables about, mostly because they’re cheaper when you buy multiples (most of the time), and they don’t go off (the ones I buy extras of, like toilet paper, kleenex, etc).

    But one thing that does jump out at me is that, despite being avid home cooks and bakers, and nearly always measuring (we prefer to measure than to “eyeball”, because we have too many recipes to remember them all, and we’d like to replicate good results in the future), we only have one set of dry measuring cups and spoons (so, one 1 cup, one 1/2 cup, one 1/3 cup, one 1/4 cup, one tablespoon, one 1/2 T, one teaspoon, one 1/2t, and one 1/4t), and only two liquid measuring jugs (one British and one American – the ounces are slightly different in size, plus one’s plastic and one’s glass). My mom always had (probably still does) an array of many duplicate wet and dry measures, despite not even being a keen cook. What that leads to, though, is the tendency to put the (generally plastic, for hers at least) measures in the dishwasher, which might warp them, or at least makes them unavailable when you want them later and the dishwasher’s running. Moreover, it means digging through multitudes of measures for the one you want – most annoying with the spoons. With ours, they hang out in the open, each of the 5 spoons and 4 cups (the liquid measures live in the cabinet), from the bottom of the spice rack, in easy reach, in order – so you can easily grab the right one without fumbling to read the (now rubbed-off) labels. It’s easy enough to wash one quickly by hand to reuse it, it encourages us to mise en place, which heads off other problems before cooking/baking even starts. They never go in the dishwasher, so they’re never unavailable, and I never have to worry about them still measuring the same amount.

    Living in a small space has made me more aware of what I bring into it, so when I’m buying non-consumables, I generally pause to ask myself if we really need it, or if it will really benefit. I think taking that one simple step would reduce so much waste and needlessly landfilled things.

    • *nod nod* We have a few measuring cups/spoons, but they’re all either metal or glass, so there’s no problem with dishwashing. I’ve been moving away from plastic stuff in general, except my favorite spatula.

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