Watch your kids. From the moment , they make their entrance they’re reaching for something. Anything. The habit persists with wanting their toes and their milk to wanting their own tablets and convertibles. It’s part of the human condition, especially the get-me-give-me American version.
As we parents age, however, there comes a time when having less is actually better than having more. Less work, less responsibilities, less social events, less things that we’re obligated to do. I was thinking about the advantage of less as I read how up to 6000 US patients a year leave operating rooms with surgical sponges, forceps and other tools still left inside them.
Think about that. How many things accumulate in our lives that we really don’t need. Or want. But in a consumer culture, accumulating them is what you do. Is how you are perceived. Is what measures your worth in the eyes of your peers. When they say winning the game of life is dying with the most toys, you still die. The 1942 film classic Citizen Kane has been making true this tragedy every time it plays on late night television or reaches a new audience of college film aficionados.
This pathology of more is fed daily. Billboards…TV commercials….newspaper coupons….Facebook advertising….whatever orifice the Madison Avenue legions can invade to reach our deepest appetites and loosest purse strings. Try this experiment. Block out each and every one of these sensory assaults on you each day, and you will soon discover anywhere from two to three “empty” hours.
Well, hardly empty; simply quiet and more tranquil. It’s this very tranquility that seekers from St Frances to Henry David Thoreau to John Lennon were looking for. So the next time the kids come to you with that I-need-I-want glint in their little consumerist eyes, ask yourself: Is this going to be my legacy? Another walking human appetite? Another avaricious little planetary product of our avaricious times>
Here’s the point, friend. We only get one life. We could use it to pile up more stuff for ourselves and our children. Lovely glittering piles to adorn our bodies and our abodes. It goes by the name ‘the good life.’ On the other and better hand, we could use it like we’re always being advised: To pile up life’s true treasures. Not one of which, as far as I can see, comes with a price tag….
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