Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Choices and all our STUFF

Ever get tired of all the materialistic "things" and feel that living off the land would be more natural? Yes, much harder, but more natural (however you want to define natural). I think most of us at one time or another get passing thoughts of wanting to move to a country setting, grow all our own food, and just have enough to sustain ourselves. Who needs the office job when we could be working the land? Why should we push for executive positions or work our whole lives to save up enough money in order to have a quieter life in the country to have more time to do what we enjoy? I realize this is a sort of pipe dream in many ways as it isn't completely thought-out and many (I'm sure) have tried to live this dream without much success or finding they didn't enjoy it as much as they thought they would. But it's still a passing thought...

I sometimes think of possible scenarios for where Chris and I could go in life. I know we would be happy on the road we're on now, or many other roads for that matter. So it's not so much about being happy, but knowing we could go in a completely new direction and the directions are many. There is something about knowing you have lots of choices in life that makes life exciting, or at least gets me fascinated. I admit it can be a little debilitating too...as there is more we are aware of to choose from.

I don't think there are necessarily completely opposing wrong and right choices. That probably goes against many beliefs, but I've tried to shy away from dichotomizing everything...putting everything into an either-or (good-bad) category. An important disclaimer here is that hopefully we stay away from choosing things that are going to hurt ourselves or others. I do believe there are smarter choices than others, and choices should be thought out with the future in mind. But I think there is a line between thinking our choices out and over-analyzing our choices. In over-analyzing (which I have done many times!) we forget that many of the choices we are choosing from would be great, a "perfect" choice is all relative, and we can always decide to go in another direction from the choice we just made. Most of the time the hardest thing to do is to choose something.

...........................A different tangent..............................

Back to my original thought on materialism... My thoughts on materialism are most likely contradictory because I too enjoy material things (as many of us do), but I feel like ranting a little, even if it is contradictory. I am often in the same boat as many, so this rant is equally aimed at myself.

I get sick of all the strip malls and endless stores! Why does anyone need so many things? And where are all of these things made? It baffles me that there are factories that make all our stuff! Can you imagine how many factories exist to keep these strip malls and stores filled? Think about the most insignificant items...napkins, straws, plastic bags, cheap toys you pay 25 cents for in a vending machine...everything has an original source. And where does all of it really go? How much of our stuff is really recycled? Imagine all the things that are not biodegradable...they exist and will most likely always exist in some form; piling in landfills because we couldn't do without them. Since everyone else has "one" we need "one" too. When I really think about it, it makes me sick thinking about all the consumer items out there, and how people as a whole buy TONS of stuff they just don't need.

Living in a culture and world where money is used beyond necessity into extravagance, it is hard to get away from it or to convince yourself, "No, I really don't need that...It's not necessary." This is a culture that convinces themselves that pleasure can be gained only through the use of money and purchasing power. Can we get back to simple pleasures that aren't reliant upon money? Can we cut back to only what we really need? Are these also pipe dreams? This momentary rant and fervor for the simple life usually dies once we realize...oh, our tv broke we need a new tv, oh, a new IPOD just came out, I need the new one, or oh, I can never have enough purses or shoes or .... you name it.

When do we pay way less attention to all the stuff around us and concentrate on what really matters to us? If we were to loose everything tomorrow except our own life, what would we morn the loss of most? The stuff shouldn't matter as much as the people we surround ourselves with. Why do we spend more time wrapped up in our stuff than the people we care about?