Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Consumer Disconnect

I'm back - but not from a vacation in the usual sense. I have been in town the whole time, but enjoying a break from my routine. It has nothing to do with work (though that has changed to accommodate the "vacation") and everything to do with a rediscovered friend. When two old friends can talk this easily after decades of separation, they can either cry over the lost years, or celebrate the reconnection and hold onto it tightly (this time). So far, my friend and I are doing the latter. Onwards and upwards, time's a'wastin'.
The great wealth to be found in interpersonal connections versus material wealth is evident to any lonely heiress sitting in a penthouse with a silent phone. But that truth is never so strongly felt as when we actually experience that connection ourselves, and realize we wouldn't trade it for the fanciest house or wildest vacation.
I sometimes feel, in this blog and in my day-to-day mutterings, as if I am a broken record, going on and on about friendship, love, attachment, and connection on the one hand, and the fallacy of materialism and the consumer ethic on the other. So it is good to see that I am not alone in my proselytizing. A cultural "meme" may be gaining speed, likely due to economic necessity rather than philosophical enlightenment - but so what? Where you get your epiphany doesn't matter as much as the getting it in the first place.
Check out this NY Times article in the Business section of Sunday's paper. It employs the usual examples of people "downsizing" and simplifying their lives, supplemented by testimony from academics about how true happiness is found in other people and the activities that bring us together (e.g., trips, classes, sports) not in heaps of things.
I look forward to a day when such articles aren't published because, d'uh!, we already know this about our species. Love: great! Stuff: not so important.

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