The lovely low days between Christmas and New Year offer to some of us the privilege of a bit of stock taking- asking those important questions about where we are now, and where we might be going.
I have been doing a lot of this of late, and will be doing some more- but one thing I am increasingly convinced of is the need to consume less, to make more with my own hands, to produce, to craft and to live more simply. Unfortunately over the past few weeks this has actually meant repeated trips to consumer-hell; IKEA and other temples to Capitalism. This is because we are setting up a guest house in a relatively out of the way corner of Scotland, and there are only so many things that you can knock together out of driftwood. It feels very wrong though.
I came across this today;
“But even in the much-publicized rebellion of the young against the materialism of the affluent society, the consumer mentality is too often still intact: the standards of behavior are still those of kind and quantity, the security sought is still the security of numbers, and the chief motive is still the consumer’s anxiety that he is missing out on what is “in.” In this state of total consumerism – which is to say a state of helpless dependence on things and services and ideas and motives that we have forgotten how to provide ourselves – all meaningful contact between ourselves and the earth is broken. We do not understand the earth in terms either of what it offers us or of what it requires of us, and I think it is the rule that people inevitably destroy what they do not understand.”
― Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
Which chimed with something else…
I read somewhere that Journalist Mark Hudson proposed 4 stages in our relationship with stuff;
- Wanting it all– life is about seeing stuff, wanting it, collecting it, playing with it, wanting the stuff other people have that is better than ours.
- Getting rid of it all- As we head out into the world, we no longer need all those treasures of our childhood- we put it in bags, lofts and dustbins. Experiences become more important
- Buying it all back again- We crave the stuff we used to have, and the feeling of security, pleasure and fulfilment we get from surrounding ourselves with walls of stuff.
- Getting rid of it all again. As we get older, we become more discerning about the stuff we want to hold on to. And we begin to worry about all the sorting out our kids will have to do.
And of course, we can not take it with us on the next journey. How many journeys to the tip and the charity shops will we all be making in the next few days?
The problem is- how on earth can we do it differently- how can we live a better way of being?
Time for another quote;
“We have to create culture! Don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own road show The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
― Terence McKenna
I don’t know much about this bloke- I think he was a bit of a Hippie ‘herbalist’, but I find myself in agreement.
I am longing for life that does not conform to the same tired, self destructive, addictive patterns. Not just talking about this kind of life- but actually starting to live it, now, in the new year, 2013. Because how much time is left?
Next year is going to be our year of new beginning. I am not exactly sure how this will go, but let the wild rumpus begin…