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Posts Tagged ‘consumerism’

(The current blog is part one of a four part series that will be posted over the next week.)

Temptation surrounds me at every turn; it surrounds all of us.  I keep wondering what I really need or really want in order to be a more centered human being.  While traveling from Washington DC to San Francisco for a 12 day retreat and vacation, I was perplexed by the fact that I brought a large suitcase full of stuff. Why did I need so much “stuff”? Why couldn’t I just wear my clothing 2 or 3 times over the course of my trek?  Underclothes need to be changed daily; although maybe that opinion is a bit subjective. 🙂  I could have also taken the time to do a little laundry, but I didn’t.

The desire for simplicity soars through my veins yet even I seem to struggle with refraining from buying books or music.  Recently I bought myself a new zafu, meditation cushion; my last cushion lasted comfortably for approximately 10 years. The question I should be asking myself before I purchase something is what gives my life more meaning and what detracts from finding balance.  In this case, my zafu will absolutely be used and loved unless I get distracted from utilizing it with all my life’s craziness.

This week while on the retreat I ended up getting a spiritual basket as part of a silent auction.  In the basket were three books, three CDs, and a tambourine from an artist that I love.  Did I need that basket of *stuff*? NO! Did I imagine I would win? NO!  I needed little in that basket yet I bid on it.  Now I could have just donated to Aleph, the Jewish Renewal movement, but that isn’t what I did.  Instead I stopped at a post office and mailed the *stuff* home.  When I told my oldest son about some of my great finds, he said, “Imma, it is just more *stuff*; you don’t need *stuff*.” Damn, he was right.  So now I will have to find places and new homes for some of the stuff.  What was I thinking?

Now, I will tell you that some things make sense, being a consumer is not all bad nor is it all good.  Making conscious choices is the right thing to do.  Reflecting on whether what you will want will bring some joy to your life, do you need it or does it add quality to your life in some large or small way.  The zafu cushion does because I chant for hours in a given week and love everything about my cushions and the sacred space they have in my life and in my home.  The books, the tambourine, and the CDs were lovely, but I didn’t need the *stuff*; I should have just made a donation.

And then there is instant gratification that surrounds at us every turn.  I have almost no liquid income; I have to spend money wisely.  Yes I can buy a few extras and I did this past week.  In most cases, I am wise and patient as I refrain from buying extras or adding more “stuff” to my life..  I also purchased a new iPod (cheaper version) to replace the one that was stolen two or so years ago.  I tried to go without spending the money, but I love music and without it, I am not a happy soul; so I splurged.  We all make choices.

But today, as I getting ready to go to the airport in San Francisco, I realized that I already read the one book I wanted to read and I had no other books I really wanted to read with me.  LOL! I just shipped three books back home and two of them are resources for my liturgical work, one of them I remember reading, but thought maybe I should have just in case.  I could have brought that book with me, but I shipped it.  The good news is that I decided to work on my writing, do a final editing of a proposal I am working on, and read the paper; I also needed to prepare for Friday night services that I leading this week.  Yay for good choices; my proposal is done, my blog will be done and posted; and I read the front section of the Wall Street journal!! I still have to prepare for Friday night’s service, but I will have a few hours of traveling ahead of me.  Life is good!!!

And then just when I think that I am free of consumerism once I board Airtran because I never buy drinks on the plane nor do  I ever go shopping via Sky Mall.  A sense of humor follows me at every turn; I opened my computer to find that Wi-Fi is available on the plane for $12.95.  This fact is so tempting for someone who loves connecting via my computer, but I decided to make a wiser choice and give myself time to write and time to rest.  Maybe I am learning to listen to my values of making conscious purchases. Perhaps.  And why do I need to spend money, can’t I go 7 hours without the Facebook, texting, IMing.  I think I can. . .I think I can. . .I CAN!

While I have made some poor choices to add stuff to my life this week, I have also made some great choices.   The bottom-line is that I have one life and it is really important to make certain I honor my values. Sometime learning happens after you realize that you have made mistakes. I am happy to say that I didn’t buy the usual coke and water I used to buy before getting on the plane.  I now bring my empty water bottle and ask the flight attendants to fill my water bottles so that I don’t create trash nor spend money purchasing my previously favorite drink in the world, Coca Cola.  So even though the advertisement for $12.95 Wi-Fi is telling me that I can:

  • Blog after you board.
  • Send a tweet from your seat.
  • Why nap when you can network?

I did remember my values and refrained from spending money. With every step I try to consider what it means to be a conscious consumer and also to consider my carbon footprint. I am not perfect, but I am constant reflecting and learning from my choices.

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