Consumed by Consumerism

You wake up sweaty and uncomfortable from a bad dream. No, a nightmare. It’s dark outside and the cool breeze feels nice. No, the sunlight is creeping up through the clouds as it does at four o’clock each morning this time of year in Idaho. That’s when you see it. No, them. All of them, with their red, beady eyes watching you in the dark–watching you sleep. You decide enough is enough. You get up and make your escape out of the bedroom. As you enter the hallway you can just make out more of them; more of it. Nothing to do but to make a run for it now. You do. “To the kitchen,” you say as your footsteps pound down the hallway. You made it, but you realize they have been waiting for you all along. Drawing you closer. You realize you have no choice now. No fight left in you. You fall to your knees and with one last effort you let out a cry. They smile down on you. They grab you and pull you closer. You thoughtlessly oblige them. They pull you closer with their invisible tethers. As you near the first one, you hold out your hand. They welcome your presence; your touch. The pointer finger on your outstretched hand reaches toward it. You’ve made contact and that’s when you hear the “click” sound on the Ninja Coffee Bar.

The things you own, end up owning you.

Tyler Durden, Fight Club

So maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration–or was it? We are consumed with consumerism. I know I am. I wanted to take an inventory of everything I own from my truck all the way down to each movie–digital or disc. Then I thought about just how long that would take. Sarah thinks I have a hole that I can never fill– yes, insert joke here. The fact is, I don’t have a hole–I have a pit. I have thrown so many things down that pit and it has never been filled. Although, each time I chucked something down it, I swore that, the object I threw, was the last. It was never the case. In fact, I still can’t see the bottom. Why is that?

Sarah is correct and this metaphor applies to many people today. For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessive and sometimes compulsive. When I first met my wife, my mother invited her over to her house to cook some food. My mother told her that if we ever got serious, Sarah would need to control the finances. How right she was. My earliest memory of wanting something so badly dates back to my first car. I would sit in class and literally fantasize about being in the car I wanted (the make and model that I dreamed of changed every week). I can still remember the emotions I felt around it. They were intoxicating.

My unhealthy relationship with materialism began just after my father’s death when I inherited a great deal of money. In a matter of a few short years, I went from fantasizing over $10,000 cars to buying dirt bikes, sport bikes, and expensive cars and trucks (all with cash). Money doesn’t last forever though, and soon I was on my own.

Stuff makes us feel good; it makes us feel safe. But stuff is just stuff and they keep coming out with cooler and better stuff. Some stuff is high definition, while other stuff is 4K (I still can’t tell a difference between the two). I obsess over stuff. I love it. I thrive on it. I don’t just go out and buy stuff. What kind of person do you think I am? I research the stuff out of it first. Gods bless YouTube for all its creative wonders!

It all starts with a seed; an idea that will nourish in time. This seed begins to rapidly take root and I am drawn into the world of research. The irony is that research is the best part. It is like a swirling pool of emotion with a current that is too strong to fight. As the research stage nears its completion, the current picks up speed. There is no fighting it now. Whatever the object, I have to obey its pull. Getting out of the pool is simple, but the only way out is to acquire the object. So, I do. Who am I to disobey?

For our 8th anniversary, Sarah and I got matching tattoos. Sarah and I wanted to get something that symbolized our growth as a couple. We decided on a lotus flower encircled by an Ensō Circle. The lotus flower grows up from mud and flowers on the top layer. This flower symbolizes rising above attachment. For me, this is about rising above attachment to stuff. The Ensō Circle is a single brushstroke, which symbolizes one-mindedness (focus). While I have not overcome attachment, I am reminded every day that I need to be careful about getting into the pool–the water there is dangerous.

So now I sit here in my office surrounded by my vast pit of materialism plotting my course for my next obsession–a generator for my camp trailer. But don’t worry, I’ve done my research and I’ve done it well.

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