My 500 Words: Day 7

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?

My 500 Words: Day 5

For many in our culture, the idea of simple has become: Give me what I want, and no one gets hurt.

It’s really that simple.

Immediate gratification is available for just about anything when it comes to our day to day lives.  It has become a part of the norm.  To delay purchases or the acquisition of material things requires discipline as an adult that is consistent and drawn out over time, so that the younger generations can glean off of the experience.  The issue her, however, is that adults are just as guilty of plugging in to all of the nonsense that satisfies our own boredom, that the kids are following suit.

Many homes use the TV as the babysitter to one degree or another.

Many homes are filled with families that are not in tune with each other, but are more in tune with the latest happenings of celebrity gossip.

Many homes main remedy for dissatisfaction comes in the form of retail therapy.

We are all used to getting what we want… nearly instantly.  Whether its information, food, clothing, or just plain old junk.

We are a drive-through culture where we can simply roll the window down, select from the menu, swipe a card, grab the bags, and pass out dinner with it being consumed before we even make it to the driveway… and then everyone plugs into their own individualized world where everyone else is shut out.

We get exactly what we want… when we want it.

This is the new normal for many households that simply go with the flow… and maintain status quo.  It’s no wonder then, that when as a parent you have to face the prospect of saying ‘no’ to your child, a fear comes over you.  They just aren’t use to not getting what they want, and you are going to hit a wall.

I believe that we are so connected with the ‘things’ we are surrounded with in this world, that anytime we deny ourselves something new, it feels as if we are denying our self.  So much of our identity is wrapped up in materialistic acquiring of ‘stuff’ that we just can’t imagine life without it.

So… it’s possible that when you are bold enough to say to a child, ‘no’… that they are feeling as if you are rejecting them.  It’d be confusing for them at best… at worst, you will find yourself being the most understanding parent that has ever lived, how dare you?

Now you know that by saying no to a child about an impulsive buy is not a rejection of the child.  You might not simply have the money in the bank account.  But they don’t think about it that way.  To many people in this culture have developed such a consumer mindset, that the only satisfaction that they get for ‘being human’ is the consumption of something.

The question that I want to pose to you… as well as my young one who stated, ‘You’re so simple that you’re complicated,’ is this:

When did simply being together… no more, no less… stop being enough?