Saturday, May 16, 2009

Removing the implant.

I am in the process finding ways to avoid shopping by growing and making what I need. That's not so easy in today's consumer culture - though my fiancee has a spinning wheel, we're not really up to making our own clothes just yet - but that day may come.

But the part that's most challenging isn't the physical aspect of shying away from the shiny storefronts - it's the emotional and psychological struggles that confront me now that shopping isn't the primary focus of my life.

Since the first day my mother plopped my diapered butt in front of a television, marketing people have been diligently finding ways to tickle my buying bone. They hired teams of psychologists to get in the recesses of my head and implant synapses that speak to me with messages like "I gotta have that thing! It will make me feel successful and happy. My friends will like me more if I have that thing. I'll get that thing home and unwrap it from its shiny package and I'll experience unbridled bliss!"

And even though countless times, I would get the thing home and a few moments after unwrapping it, the promised bliss would melt away like a crayon in the sun, and I would realize for a flicker of an instant that the advertisements had lied to me yet again. But then, the implanted messages would resume, and I would head for the store again to find the next trinket that would make me whole again.

For decades, these messages have been subtly and expertly implanted into our brains! In blatant disregard of the Hippocratic oath, marketing psychologists have turned our own monds against us, exploiting our mental weaknesses to coax a few more bucks from our wallets via a never-ending cycle of consumerism that has left many of us in a cycle of indebtedness that places us further and further from the real fulfillment and happiness we desire.

In the face of this onslaught, it's easy to fall into the role of victim, but I know I must take responsibility for my part in this destructive dance. After all, I went into the marketing business and spent my career as a graphic designer, creating attractive images to lure people into buying my clients' products. I'm one of them. I know their tricks better than most. But I still fall for those tricks just like everyone else.

I still want to go buy something to make myself feel better. Now that I am trying to change my habits, feelings of failure and shame creep into my psyche when I'm not vigilant. When they do, I head for some of the antidotes I've found that work for me: family, sun, earth, bird songs, playing fiddle, trees, woodworking.

These things help, but I'm in the process of changing some deeply-ingrained habits, and I find that these defeatist feelings well up inside me fairly often. I get discouraged frequently.

So I created this blog as much for myself as anyone else. I need a place to vent frustrations, to explore new ways of living, to purge myself of unnecessary stuff, to grow from within, to rediscover the people around me and create a richer, more satisfying life for myself. At this point, I really have no choice.

So I invite you to come on this journey with me. I'm making this journey public in the hope that sharing my experiences and discoveries will help a few other people along the way.

I'll start by sharing a book that is helping me let go of all the accumulum I've purchased over the years. The book is called "Clutter Busting" by Brooks Palmer. I was lucky enough to find a second-hand copy - maybe you can, too.


Until next time,
Rich Richard