I like shopping. No, I love shopping. I confess. One of my favorite pass-times is to go from shop to shop with my wife. I don’t always buy stuff, but I just like to be there.
Today – a beautiful sunny day – I was walking through Glasgow City Centre and then I sought refuge from the cold in a Shopping Mall. I immediately became aware of the deep sensation of comfort when I was enveloped by a cloud of warm air blown from on high (the air vents, not the sky). It was lovely. I was cold before, now I felt cosy. ‘Ahaaaa, so that’s your game!’ I thought. The message is clear: ‘Don’t go out in nature, it’s cold and uncomfortable. Come in here and give us your money. It doesn’t matter you don’t need any of the stuff we’re selling. Buy it anyway. It’s on sale. Who doesn’t like a bargain? Sale is now on!’
I didn’t buy anything. I was too much aware of the attempted guilt trip for not contributing to the consumerism machine and just walked by the shops with a confident grin on my face. No, I will not. I didn’t, and it felt much better than if I had given in. I couldn’t wait to come home and calculate how much I saved. Awesome!
In the beginning of the new year I feel compelled to spend a lot more time reflecting on what Jesus came to give us: life in abundance. You’d think Jesus came to give us a new religion, but you’d be wrong. He came so that we may have life, and have it abundantly. What does that mean practically in the day to day life? Was he talking about some kind of ‘spiritual’ life? Was he talking about economic prosperity? I doubt it. None of those can satisfy in and of themselves, because the spiritual and the non-spiritual should never be separated. It’s so hard to recover from centuries of a split mind…
On top of that I keep thinking about consumerism and it’s lack of capacity to satisfy while trashing our planet by depleting it of resources (see storyofstuff.com). Is there an alternative to that? Can we have a life in abundance that is not only spiritual or mental? Can we have a life that is grounded in the physical and material but does not rely exclusively on ‘shopping’ and ‘retailing’? Can we imagine an economic system that is not based on consumerism? What would that take?
I figured this journey of reflection can only be a self-disclosure kind of journey. It’s useless to speculate and theorise if I’m not willing to look at my own life, my own habits and tendencies in this area. This can be dangerous and far too revealing. I like it.