I love making New Year’s resolutions, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to have any impact on my ability to keep them. I can’t even remember what my resolutions from last year were. Not that that’s surprising, only a pitiful 12% of people keep their resolutions and Continue reading
Posts Tagged With: Materialism
My life has undergone a somewhat radical change recently. Not long ago Christmas time would have meant me getting lost among the countless tourists on 5th avenue as I searched for hidden treasures; fancy gifts from fancy stores for friends and family with perhaps a couple for me mixed in as well. It was a process I loved, in part because I love giving things away, but in part for the less admirable reason Continue reading
Everyone’s a Critic (Including Me)
Writing a blog, unlike being a rock star, isn’t a self-esteem boosting career. Now before you all start feeling overwhelmed with pity and sending me notes about how much you like what I write, let me clarify what I mean. What I mean is that even if, and here comes a list of some majors if’s: you write like TS Eliot (I don’t), you have piles of readers, you have constant inspiration and you get a steady stream of fan mail; you’re still subjected to constant criticism.
The reason for this isn’t that blog readers are a group of online trolls who delight in the meaningless abuse of hapless authors, but more simply that everyone has their own tastes, or perhaps on a more basic level, their own needs. One reader comes seeking entertainment, one inspiration and another, information. I actually strive to provide some level of all of these, but I’m more likely to find the Holy Grail than a balance that pleases everyone.
The criticism doesn’t stop there either. Another thing I often hear is something along the lines of “shouldn’t you be producing something?” or in other words “shouldn’t you have a real job where you make something worth money?” My gut reaction to this is to try and list all the things I do accomplish, but the fact is there are those who are a good deal more productive than I am. I’m not a doctor providing lifesaving care for African villagers, nor am I busy blistering my hands building houses for the homeless.
That said, using ones productivity to measure one’s contribution to society ignores half of the equation. To be a real benefit to the world one has to give more than one takes. For example, if I make 10 apple pies a day, but eat 12 I can’t really make a claim to be doing my neighbors a lot of good, even if being inferior bakers they only make 5 apple pies a day. In the end our consumption counts just as much as our production.
Of course, most of us like to think that we simply spend the money we make and things work out at least balanced. Sadly, things are a bit more complicated. Thanks to complex economics and our ability to rain a fiery death upon those that oppose us, westerners are able to consume roughly five times the amount they produce. Even worse, the things we consume are often produced by slave labor which mercifully, at least for us, we aren’t forced to see. (For those interested in taking a peak behind the curtain, I’m posting an online quiz that allows you see where and how many slaves you have working for you. It’s the most fun you can have ripping apart your own life habits.)
Now I’m not going to sit here and lecture people about how they should start running barefoot since shoes are made by children in China: I prefer to keep my blog focused on the positive side of life which receives far too little attention. Even so I think a little self-awareness can go a long way, that and I wouldn’t want everyone thinking that blog authors are the only members of society in need of a little criticism.
The Dangers of Flying
Airports are a dangerous place. I don’t mean that you’re likely to get assaulted in one (although the security screenings come awfully close and have some really bad potential). I mean that for an extreme-budget travelers like me, the pressure to spend budget breaking money reaches diamond making levels. Stress and boredom have an unmatched
The most obvious pressure comes from the food services. I don’t know if there’s a demonic pact between the airlines and restaurants, but the fact that low cost airlines don’t serve meals causes me some serious issues. I can handle a short flight within Europe, but an 18 hour transatlantic Odyssey pushes me to the edge of cannibalism. Today for instance, driven to desperation, I found myself eating at McDonalds. Not only does that make me a bad person, but the food only fills you up for a couple hours so I’m already starving again.
Food isn’t the only money sucker at the airport either. There are the piles of overpriced shops. Maybe they don’t tempt some people, but for me spending hours waiting for a transfer surround by flashy shops is like ex-alcoholic hanging out at a bar during happy hour. I’ve tried to change, but there’s a part of me that will always love shopping. I know it’s a base, materialistic desire and that I don’t need the stuff, but when I’m in the store I don’t care. I want to buy things. I want new clothes. I want gifts for my friends. I want crazy little shot glasses with pictures of Big Ben.
Today I managed distract myself by getting an in-store makeover. My transfer was in Iceland, which is known for its spas, so I tried samples of all the fancy facial lotions and even some hair gel. I wonder if the anti-aging serum I put on will really make me look younger. In any case, I’m sure I looked insane, but one of the advantages of being an ex-lawyer is I still have some decent clothes so the sales people smile at me because they think I might actually buy something. Uh oh, here comes the duty free lady on the plane. Is there no end to these trials?!