• Whether the pitcher hits the rock, or the rock hits the pitcher, it's going to be pretty bad for the pitcher. - Sancho Panza, in Don Quixote

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shopping versus Buying: fun versus consumptive consumerism

I try hard to rein in my disgruntlement with what is going on between spendthrift financial corporations and the US Federal Government. If you want to know what I think just take a moment for some free-fall mental grumblisms - and ask me privately what my thoughts are. Most everyone knows I won't respond to comments here, it's all I can do to control my political incorrectness in posts.

So, here is how someone has lived and been happy without going into bankruptcy.

Whatever kind of 'learning-style' consumer you are, someone somehow is messaging you that a particular THING that they happen to sell is JUST WHAT YOU LOVE. And someone else is telling you that if you truly love something you must have it/marry it/embalm it/keep it forever.

What's a girl with limited space and no tolerance for long-term commitments to do?

Here's a stranger but somehow more concrete idea:

I have two parakeets, they are 'free-range' but I promise not to eat them! they are not confined to their cage, that's all. So, they have each other if they truly want a real companion. And, they do spend a good amount of time with each other chatting, or bickering, or just hanging out in the same 1 ft cubic space.d

But, we have mirrors for them, with convenient perches. And they spend a LOT of their time fixated on the 'parakeet in the mirror' - in fact one is right now putting a lot of energy into clinging to a mirror suspended from the ceiling, hanging upside down so she has to twist her head backwards to see and attack/bicker with/feed the parakeet in the mirror.

Angela (parakeet) isn't interested in reality, in really connecting with or hanging with that 'thing' on the other side of the display case. When she can be happy with reality, she has Pedro. But something about the elusive 'on display' is more attractive at times.

I too feel the pull of what is behind the glass, so beautifully arranged. Yes, it is done so as to show me in my perfected state, or at least my perfected surroundings. (it begs the question, does stuff sell more when it has mirrors in the display?) But I have 40 years more experience with life than my parakeets, and I have broken the barrier and taken possession of the thing on the other side of the barrier so many times that I have a little different perspective on what actually will give me satisfaction; I have learned that once I get the 'magic thing' behind Door Number 1 it becomes "stuff." And I now spend much of my life getting rid of 'stuff.'

Then, a friend set me free. "There can be stuff in the world that you don't own, it is OK!" she said as we left a garage sale without purchasing anything.

Things that have a price tag on them are very beautiful. "Stuff" has much less beauty. So, I have finally learned to enjoy beauty without destroying it, to appreciate beautiful things without purchasing them.

In short, now I SHOP, I don't buy.

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