Excessive consumption is a disorder in our culture. Dealing with the sickness head on, one may think that doing more… or consuming more… would be the answer. There is such a feeling of dissatisfaction in ‘being’ when someone, say, sees that their neighbor or their friend has something of value, that a person gets this desire to have it too. The object is coveted. The object is desired, eagerly, and without regard for the real cost it carries.
Time is spent online or in the stores seeking after said object. Critical thinking is left to the wind as the addictive nature of having something more sets in. We begin to tell our self that if we can only have this, then satisfaction will be experienced. Money is put on the table… a purchase is made… and the object is consumed for a time. It is a hit on the crack pipe of materialism that gives a temporary high of immediate gratification… and a plastic self-worth.
What we fail to recognize is that this dissatisfaction in being is being fed by more and more of the thing that we actually need less and less of. Each individual’s diagnosis is unique to them. For some it is money. For some it is sex. For some it is work. For some it is children. For some it is gadgets. For some it is power… a cause to fight for… an athletic competition… a degree.
Take one or any combination of them and make an injection into a person’s system, and for a time there is a feeling of relief. There is a temporary feeling of purpose and meaning. There is a short lived moment of clarity to the idea of what it means to be human. But this new found identity is short lived.
Boredom sets in.
Someone else surpasses them with something bigger and better.
The sense of meaning that they had collapses as the dust on the latest and greatest begins to build, and in time the hunger… for more… begins to grow.
Thus the cycle perpetuates.
It is not more of any one or combination of things that someone needs… it is actually… less.
To someone addicted to the consumption of more… this makes the idea of simplicity sound complex. After all, we all know the short term thrill of holding a new possession. It’s a high. To suggest that we should deny our self the only thing that provides that short term buzz of purpose and meaning is to make the statement that the crack pipe needs to be put down… and not picked up again.
It is then that the real questions that need to be dealt with can be addressed: What is actually missing in my life that causes me to believe that if I don’t have some ‘thing’, that my life has no meaning? Can I really be happy with what I have, and not what I want?… no more?… no less?
Is it possible, that if we get to the place of a simple life, that we will actually find our self the owner of all that can’t be bought in the first place? And in that, find true meaning and purpose?