I actively avoid commercials. TV, radio, printed – any form.
The blatant propaganda to manipulate the watcher’s sense of self when they show perfect people in perfect lives enjoying perfect products (because that’s all it takes to be happy!) is just more than I care to process.
My kids have always been banned from watching and listening to them. It’s as poisonous to their systems as sodas and fast food (ok, we do indulge in a little of that), and the brainwashing is as detrimental as type II diabetes. And, often as avoidable.
I was watching two shows the other day – one of my commercial-avoidance strategies – and flipped from one channel to another. I unintentionally caught part of a major food chain’s heralding of “THE NEVER-ENDING PASTA BOWL!!!”.
Because that sounds like a good idea.
That’s when a theory hit me.
One of the shows I’d been flipping from was a History Channel documentary on the Dark Ages. Part of the show had, of course, shown the level of poverty into which a great deal of the western European population had regressed following the fall of the Roman Empire. People were starving and scrounging daily for basic needs to be met.
You know, kind of like people are in a lot of the world today. Including in the U.S.
But back in first-world-problem land, enter full-screen, enhanced color image of said pasta (alfredo, in this case) being twirled lasciviously around the tines of a fork bigger than my head. Literally, the image of the fork on the screen was bigger than my head. Who needs to see pasta that close up? I don’t even get that close a look when I’m eating it; I’d need a magnifying glass.
I just couldn’t stop the question Why? from popping up. Why would anyone think or feel a “never-ending pasta bowl” would ever be necessary?? It’s not even physically possible to eat continuously ad infinitum. And with history on my brain, I backtracked a few decades through the generations before us and I think there’s a link there to an old, generational fear that we have every opportunity and ability now to break.
I know in my own family the underlying, insidious fear of lacking something material and basic, or losing what you have, or not having enough was ingrained well before I was born. Yet those fears being realized wasn’t ever the reality for my family. Paternally and maternally, the previous generations of my family were filled with hard-working, educated, family-centered people. No one was living the high life, but abject poverty wasn’t there, either.
But I think the fear-based mentality made it’s way in anyhow from a broader societal scale, brought on by some people actually experiencing those things while many other people watched. I think that fear spread to a great number of people in our nation. I’m referring to crises and events like Suffrage, Prohibition, and the Great Depression quickly followed by World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.
Can we just take a sec and remember how much fear and anticipation of lack went into the energy bodies – emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual – of the generations before us for the past 120 years? They were fighters, and ran on a lot less fuel…literally.
Maybe our current culture of material excess is partly due to a clash of all of that energy with the boom of industry, capitalism, technology, and government control that simultaneously exploded culturally. Excess is not the same thing as wealth, and often exists despite the absence of wealth.
Generations of people who had a lot less (sometimes enough, sometimes not) raised generations of people who’ve had more than they could – or should – handle.
That’s us, folks.
Not only do we have more things, but what those things do is dangle before us an absolutely mind-boggling amount of opportunity to distract, entertain, and otherwise preoccupy us. We allow them to make us stupider. Even worse, if we can’t get them we sometimes judge ourselves harshly for that. And possibly more worse than that, we want the things but tell ourselves we don’t (because “we’re not showy”), engaging in false humility and denial that leads to even greater, underlying self-loathing.
We can live with a lot less than we do. And be perfectly happy. We have “glamour wealth” now – it’s bright and shiny and momentarily attractive, but there’s nothing backing it. I’m not knocking enjoying material things; I’ve always been taken in by “sparkly”. I love it and have my entire life (Leo Moon = shiny brings me joy). Not sorry about that.
When I was little I collected mica and clear quartz rocks that I’d find wherever they showed up – the yard, the creek, side of the road on the way home from school. My mom drove an hour with me one day to go see a gemologist so that maybe I’d believe him that they weren’t real diamonds. I was in second grade, and not entirely convinced.
But there’s a balance to be found in enjoying the luxuries and gifts of the Earth and using them to dull pain, nurse wounds, or salve fear. I’m not asking anyone to raise their hand in admission of this because then I’d have to put my own down first to see who else raised their’s.
There have been many wonderful inventions and social changes during the same time period I mentioned above and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying them…in balance with your life. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater; we have amazing and unprecedented access to goods and services from all over the world, and social consciousness of human rights and shared spiritual ideologies have benefited millions. It’s truly an amazing time in which we live.
But we have more work to do. Thankfully we have history to show us a few things, and we are accountable for how we’re living now. We are conscious, and thinking about it is the first step to conscious change.
I believe that this widespread culture of excess, overspending, over-accumulating, poor nutrition, medicated minds, massive waste creation, and lowering of production standards is part of the bigger picture of changes already coming – it’s our dark or shadow side, and it’s finally coming to light. We occasionally need that contrast to see more clearly. It feels like people are realizing how empty they still are even with the newest/biggest/best stuff.
Now we have to look elsewhere – away from that precious stuff – to figure out life.
I believe our answer may be underneath what that pasta bowl never-endingly attempts to cover. Yoga, therapy, meditation, education, community building and many other methods of discovery are here to help, but none of them are cure-all’s in themselves. We have to see that our fear of lack is an illusion – a very tantalizing illusion – and transcend the cycle of “more”.
Enough is enough.
And within each of us, we each are enough.Share