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 choices 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 affected 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 efficient 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.
One 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.
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.