I well remember the day. Not the actual date, but the day. It was fall, and it was in 2005, and I had to acknowledge that as sunny and temperate as the day was, I was out of sync with the world.
It started simply enough. I was in traffic, attempting to get from downtown to the east side mall and home for making dinner for the tribe. And I was held up for three traffic light changes by a large Office Max. They had a sign advertising computers and printers on sale. I was thinking how nice it would be to have a new printer, not one purchased at a yard sale and that you could find ink cartridges for. I knew that would not happen as my then husband was of the ilk that he would spend on used yard sale items what a new one would cost and attempt to make one out of the many – usually unsuccessfully. Moving on down the street, I became stuck again for several lights at a strip mall, and there were more electronic items, and linens advertised. Hmmm. Well, I again moved several miles this time, and low and behold, another big box electronic store, advertising many of the same items that Office Max had been tempting us with. And then I got to observing, really taking a look at this phenomenon. And the question hit me, How much of this stuff does any household really need. I got to thinking. In our home, we had 6 televisions, and 5 computers – that worked! And we did not have even that many people living there. So how many electronic items did we need? How many did any one person need? And how did stores, that specialised in selling only specific items, such as these and linens, stay in business? So I counted, on the one street I was on, from downtown to the east side mall. At that time, there were no less than 47 stores that sold electronic items such as computers and televisions, and 23 stores that sold linens! How could they, even in Tucson, have enough repeat business to stay afloat – and this was only on one major street. I knew that this was repeated on the other major streets. Literally, my breath was taken from me, and I realized that we were living in a false economy. And because I had bought into this, my life was also based on something that would not last.
I got home, and tried to talk to my then husband, who was shockingly uninterested, and told me that I was worried about nothing. Of course the children did not want to hear this, teens that they were. I knew I could not change the world of consumerism, but I could change myself. And that is where it started.
Everything I had believed was put under the microscope of “Do I really believe this? Do I really value this?” And the changes that came from this. Oh, some were and are painful. But my life is starting to fill with peace and acceptance of who I am and what I have to offer in the pond I live in. One of the first episodes lead to my becoming totally alienated from my husband. He had been out of the marriage already for years, and the fights and the resentments and anger made the house so toxic I rarely wanted to go home. Hence my voyage down the street that lead to my observations, in rush hour traffic. Some were more quiet, and happened inside me. The questioning of my religion and did I really believe it, or was I merely following out of fear and family duty. Others bore fruit years later, like the realization that saving things just to do so is a waste of time, energy, resources and leaves an untenable mess for your children. My children will not have this when I go. And really, how many services for 8 of dishes does a single person need?
In the months after my mother died, I opened four large boxes in storage that had been packed in 1948 when my parents left Los Angeles, and had not seen the light of day since then until January of 2012. It hit me hard. I had always been lead to believe that there were precious family heirlooms enclosed. Well, newspaper clipping on how to make aprons, drapes, cut pictures out of magazines to use as art work in your home, etc. filled these boxes. My parents had moved these boxes 8 times with professional movers, coast to coast. They were heavy, and they were virtually useless. I understood my Father’s rants about my Mother and her “junk”, and also his frustration. Holding on to useless items, useless ideas, useless to you beliefs that do not make one a better person takes away from your ability to open your hand to the possibilities of life. Even your spiritual hands, if they are clenched tightly to hold something you do not believe, are too full to share the truth and the beauty of what you were meant to share with others. This took me way too many years to figure out. And I do revert back to the old, or at least listen to the voice of the past.
It is time for me to fully move forward. To be who I am. To not be afraid of this, but to fully embrace it.