The age of acquisition, too much of a good thing

The other day a friend mentioned that she was having a hard time picking out a new washer and dryer because of the profusion of choices1choices available. It was all so confusing—front loader, top loader, steam feature, stacking, pedestal? Then there are the hundreds of models, manufacturers, price options and warranty issues to sort out. In a less costly version of the same scenario, I stood in front of the hair conditioner section in the drug store the other day and felt faint when confronted with hundreds of bottles of varying sizes, colours and claims that basically all do the same thing. If I make the wrong choice will I wake up bald? Our range of choices for material and consumer goods in today’s market is obscene. Sadly, I am as guilty of being sucked into the materialism vortex as anyone.

I heard on the radio the other day that a recent study concluded that people are more positively materialism3affected and left with longer-term feelings of happiness as a result of experiences rather than things. A girlfriend once planned to buy her mother a silver tea service for her 65th birthday, something her mother had always wanted. When she ran the idea past her mother she was surprised by the response. “I wanted it when I was younger” she said “but now I realize it’s not important and I really don’t want to be bothered polishing it.” I think we are now understanding the significance of this.

As Boomers get older we also get a bit smarter (quelle suprise!). We are now reaching a point in life where we’re lightening our load, or at least trying to. We’re looking for smaller, more materialism2efficient houses or condos. We’re hauling bags of clothes and household goods to Good Will and keep promising ourselves we’ll stop impulse buying. Trips to the mall are fraught with temptation to buy more crap we do not need and have no room for. Who among us needs another pair of black pants or black shoes. When I find myself lusting after some cute top in a store or a gorgeous pair of shoes, I find I’m now realizing that I already have something almost like it at home.

I have more white blouses, black sweaters and black pants than I’ll ever need for the rest of my life. As a teenager in the early 60s I owned one good white blouse —a hand-me-down from a friend. I wore that blouse to death. I clearly remember washing it by hand on a Saturday morning, hanging it outside on the clothesline, bringing it in to iron it and wearing it still damp (we didn’t own a clothes dryer) in the afternoon to meet my girlfriend Bronie at Long’s Restaurant for our Saturday afternoon Coke fix, the old-fashioned kind that comes out of a fountain and can be flavoured with cherry, vanilla, chocolate, maple or strawberry syrup.. Today I probably have no less than 20 white blouses. How far I’ve fallen.

materialism1One of my weaknesses is magazines and I subscribe to 18 per month, which get recycled to girlfriends. But all that advertising suggesting that I could have better, shinier hair, smoother skin, more fashionable clothes, longer, thicker eyelashes, a thinner body and a more rewarding lifestyle is just downright depressing. My mind is being bombarded with too many choices which makes choosing anything a stressful endeavor. And the message that I am not good enough as I am is not only wrong, it’s dangerous.

Perhaps we’ve now reached the point my friend’s mother reached about the silver tea set. Most things being promoted as the key to eternal happiness, I don’t need, no longer want and don’t want to maintain. The things I truly enjoy the most are experiences that cost next to nothing. For example:

1. Sitting drinking multiple cups of tea while I read The Globe and Mail in the morning and not having to watch the clock to rush off to work. I’m retired.

2. Getting together with friends and girlfriends in particular.reading3

3. Sitting outside in the shade reading my books and magazines with my little dog on my lap.

4. Having a conversation with my husband about whatever and anything.

5. Having my husband to share my life.

6. Sliding into nice fresh outside air-dried sheets at the end of the day next to my honey and reading some more.

7. And I love blogging. I even managed to get my internet provider to lower my monthly service fee because I’m not a huge consumer of data bytes.

I’m so happy that one of your choices was to read my blog—and it didn’t cost you a thing or add clutter to your home. Thank you for reading “mes pensées” whoever and wherever you are.

 

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[…] Click here to read The age of acquisition . . . too much of a good thing. […]

how to talk to girls
6 years ago

Great informatіon. Lucky me I came aсross your site by chancе
(stumbleupon). ӏ’ve saved it for latеr!

bethmc
6 years ago

Who doesn’t love a good purge – cathartic! I too have a magazine “problem” – have you thought about “Next Issue (www.nextiissue.ca)”?? I am contemplating subscribing (you need an iPad) – I have multiple friends who use it and not only do they save a whole lot of hard earned moulah – there’s no clutter. It’s 14.99 a month to read all your favourites. The titles you “subscribe” to automatically download when the new issues are released. If you have an iPad I recommend trying it out – you can get a free one month trial (I apologize in advance… Read more »

Lynda Davis
6 years ago
Reply to  bethmc

I’ve considered NEXT but I start my subscriptions while I’m in Florida. The U.S. subscriptions average about $1.00/issue (even for mags like Oprah and Veranda). I sign up for 3 years, then when we return home I go on-line and change my address to Canada. When the subscription runs out and they want a ridiculous amount to renew, I simply let it lapse and go on Hearst Publications’ site and re-subscribe. Often they offer bonus subscriptions as incentives for $5.00/year – that’s how I got Country Living and some others. Getting them on-line to read on my IPad is great… Read more »

Margaret Dickson
Margaret Dickson
6 years ago

Thanks for this blog it the truth! Since going through the stressful selling a home based business, including the house and pretty well all the furniture, cleaning out the attic, furnace room and anywhere else a box could be stored I swore I would never let material things get out of hand again. The cold reality is no one wants your stuff, what they do want isn’t worth anything near what you think it is and when you face the truth even YOU don’t want it you anymore. I am consciously working toward a modified minimalism and repurposing and multi-purposing.… Read more »