A baker, real-estate developer, and even, me, a photographer, we all have something in common. Everyone of us hustles to earn big, big money. Because we know with money we can live the life we want, be happy, and free. Right?
Where did our culture get this notion? When did it become acceptable to place profits over people, cash over love. And when did consumerism take over the soul of our people making us want, want, and want. Do you think there is still a simple life to be had somewhere?
Money can consume us. Changing our lives, our culture. Why do we work so hard, so much. This 24-hour society we live in defies nature, we’re not meant to slave away all night, we’re not nocturnal beings and working all night affects our natural sleep and wake rhythms. And, yet, these shift continue to be the norm.
What is the benefit of working all hours of the day. Why not devote more time to family, friends, nature. On a recent trip to Iceland, I found you would be hard pressed at finding a store or restaurant open past 8 p.m. or opening earlier than 11 a.m.
I’m not sure the reason behind the hours, but at first I was turned off by the idea, and thought I’m a consumer and my needs must be met. This store should be open.
Well, at the time, I wasn’t thinking about the employees of that store, maybe their devoting precious time to their families or they’re at a school function. But, because I needed a bottle of orange juice at 9 a.m., they should be there to serve me. Wrong. We all deserve time for us. And in hindsight it’s an admirable fact of the Icelandic culture.
Think of toys and outdated electronics piling high, junk by most standards. A closet full of clothes, tags still on, and yet to be worn. Flies hovering over a kitchen trash can full of wasted food. Some of the signs and symptoms of a world overriden by consumerism.
How did we let it get this far, the race to have it all without thinking I have enough already. We’re pushed to buy, want, feel the need for things that we don’t really need. And when we get them how satisfied are we. Not much. It’s a an endless cycle.
Advertising companies push our buttons by playing on our basic needs, emotions, and insecurties. Do I need a new cell phone which does virtually the same things as my current phone?
The ad sends us a mental picture that we will be happier with our lives, because we have a new phone. It’s a status symbol, it’s new, and supposedly does all these wonderful things we can’t possibly live without. Meanwhile, your pocketbook is $500 lighter. And your locked in a contract.
There is a simpler way of life. We can leave these material possessions and jaded status symbols behind. And begin searching for ourselves, who we really are. Not who a society or a culture defines for us, but who we want to be.
Socrates is recorded in antiquity as saying, “know thyself.”