Boxing Day. The most materialistic day of the year. I am still coming to terms with modern society after my sabbatical-of-sorts in Wrigley. As we drive around Edmonton, I just can not get over how many stores there are! And new developments — whole new neighbourhoods have sprung up since I last noticed. But I think it’s the stores that bother me the most. I even said out loud on the way home after supper, “do we really need this many stores?” My family agreed that no, we didn’t.
Yet I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I need stuff too sometimes. I have to remember that there are thousands of people that need stuff, so of course there are going to have to be stores to serve them. There are students, freshly moved out from their parents’ places who need to furnish whole new apartments. There are people who have moved from across Canada to take advantage of Albertan opportunities. These people I understand. They make sense to me. But I have a feeling a lot of people who really don’t need new stuff spend a lot of resources (time and money) buying stuff they don’t need. More candles. New curtains. Just stuff.
This bothers me. I don’t know why. But, when something bothers me, I try to understand why it bothers me so much. It must be a mirror to me — showing me something about myself. It’s an opportunity to learn something new about how I tick.
It could be because I see how people are trying to fill a void in their lives with material things. It could be because I think people are being programmed by commercials on TV until they believe they need things they don’t. It could be because I lived without stores and was totally happy! It could be because I lived without new things of any kind for so long when I was a university student — I joke that I was food bank girl — that I know it can be done. It could be because I feel that the world’s resources are so limited, we shouldn’t be wasting them on more scented candles and unnecessary curtains.
Yet I know that the world is far more abundant than we think. I have seen abundance in the trees, snow, and the immense size of the Mackenzie River. I know that the world is healing itself faster than we can hurt it. Little old mankind has less effect than we think — it’s egotistical to think that we can “destroy” the whole planet. We make significant marks on the surface, to be sure, but Gaia is not in danger. But I digress.
I think what bothers me the most is this: I perceive that people are very materialistic. This isn’t actually true, so as a result, I feel unsettled. That is all. If I can adjust my thinking to see stores as a good thing, or a sign of a prospering economy, rather than a sign of social disease, I know I will feel better. Edmontonians are actually kind, generous people.
Could it be universally true that when we feel bothered by something, it is only because we are thinking, or believing, something that is fundamentally untrue? I think so…
Or maybe I’m just a little freaked out by the $99 long johns at Cabella’s. I’m still buying everything at second hand stores if I can. :)