I am in my mother’s Michael’s store she calls her art studio. She wants to do a joint art project but I can’t find anywhere to sit. She’s rolling her eyes at my conversation about overconsumption and the fact that she is a retailer’s dream of infinite want incarnate.
With no shame she announces, “ Speaking of Michael’s, I need paint.”
I walk over to her paint drawers and open them. “What color?”
”I don’t have it.”
I pull out a bottle.
”Oh,” my mom says as I pull out another one. She looks at me and smiles as I pull out bottle three. My eyes raise. Four. I’m looking her right in the eyes. We both start laughing. Five. Six. Seven. We are crying.
”Mom,” I say between laughs wiping my tears “Stop buying yellow ochre!”
But give her a minute, we will be at Michael’s for something, wandering aisles as she picks up random items and then changes direction to another unrelated section, me a rare shopper now turned toddler whining about when we get to go home and finally saying, “Mom, I thought you needed something.”
”I do! They are having a sale.”
”Mom, they have coupons and sales everyday for the last five years.”
”I don’t really need anything.”
We both laugh knowing not only is her art studio itself a store, but her new art studio, the sun room down stairs, is threatening to chain store.
I call this the glitch of infinite want fueled by advertising, sale schemes and retail therapy. The if only I had, then life would be...
I know now all about it. Raised by first generation college goers, I now reflect on the quest to match what no doubt appeared to be the lifestyle of those with more but is a chachqi infested China plastic hoarders dream.
Those who have, have. Have the feeling of having, aren’t always looking for that’s why they have.
When I first got out of college and became a teacher, I didn’t know what to do with my new funds. I imitated what I knew in the form of shopping sprees, restaurants and movies.
It had its fun times (would do it again times) dressed in 40’s swing retro style dancing at the coconut grove in Santa Cruz or salsa dancing in San Francisco after delicious meals at sexy Steps of Rome in the Italian district.
By my tenth year of teaching, though, I had a three panel closet with clothes still sporting tags, a brain tumor, debt and major depression.
The antidote cure, known in Native Traditions as the giveaway, literally what it sounds like, a giving away of what is blocking you from what’s real, true, and important so that you aren’t trapped by your attachment to them. In other words, your things don’t own you, especially all the stuff you aren’t using shoved into corners, drawers, and closets. Choose quality over quantity. Have favorites, cherish and take care of them.
My nephew, looking to build credit has his first credit card in his hand. I break a sweat just looking at it, “Tia, what advice would you give me?”
“Invest in you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Your things won’t make you who you are, your life will. Invest in experiences. Educate yourself. Put your money towards your passions. Know when you’re full,” I say telling him the story of his grandma and her paint. Amazing artist. Invests in her passions. Our great great grandchildren will make art with what she collects. So I guess she is also investing in us being artists too.
“How do I know if I’m full?”
“If you think you need something go look for it in your closet. Is it full? See how many similar things you have. If you still want the new one give away the other five. The more you give, the more you will realize you have.
Mostly, practice contentment and rechannel boredom into self-development. Think of the future. Invest in dreams.
The closer to dreams you are, the more you will feel you have everything you need. The more you feel you have everything you need, the further from survival mentality you will be. Once your basic needs are met, you can let go of the dream others feed you for profit and let go into the life your soul calls you to.
That is true contentment. And the money you didn’t spend on chachqis, use it to get there.