This past year has been a trial in commitment, setbacks, and follow-through. I started going to the gym in December of last year. I started working with a trainer in January. I set goals for myself with weight lifting. In March, I herniated a disc. So then I started running instead of lifting. I set more goals for myself. In September, I found out I had to have my gallbladder removed. Since then, I have been trying to figure out how to get my body to work best without it. That’s just the physical stuff. This year has been about being better. This year has taught me numerous things about myself as well as others.
Not only have I been learning things through my personal life, but also the outside world. Before Occupy Wall Street came along, I had watched Inside Job, which was seriously eye-opening and a definite must-see. I had read lots of articles and had lots of discussions about how things were so messed up and maybe that’s why I have latched onto OWS, as it is (to some extent) a natural progression of what I was thinking already. Between OWS and the changes to my job due to consumerist demands, I have started to make some decisions.
Today, I put a list on my Facebook of things I would like to get rid of. I started this earlier in the year when I sold a lot of the toys that I had been sitting on via eBay and felt a lot lighter because of it. These are things that I don’t need or want. I feel as if my mind (and my apartment) will feel clearer after unnecessary things are gone. This is not a diatribe about how owning stuff is bad. I have a lot of things. I stood in line for an iPad this year, for goodness’ sake! But there is a difference between owning things and them owning you. There is a difference between wanting to get nice Christmas gifts for people you care about and showing up to shop on Thanksgiving day.
Some people have seemed confused as to why I was so against Black Friday this year. As someone who works in retail, I understand this is part of the package. I signed away a lot of freedom on the holidays when I took the job. However, the constant catering to higher and higher consumer demand to the point that some stores are opening at 10pm or midnight on Thanksgiving night, there is pepper spraying and riots, etc… That’s too much. Where does it stop? To me, this directly connects to OWS and the idea that we are losing our non-consumerist ideals. Stuff is more important than spending time with your family. Money is more important than being an honest worker. My job depends on people buying stuff. Again, I am not against stuff. (I want people to take the stuff I’m getting rid of and put it to good use because I am not!) I am not against gifts and Christmas and my company making money. But, for me, some of those things are becoming significantly less important compared to spending time with people or taking the time to do something else like run, read a book, etc.
So I am getting rid of some stuff and focusing on the other things that make my life better. This year, I took in a kitten, Maus, that was dumped outside and she has been one of the highlights of the past few months (along with Thor, my older cat, of course). I am reading more regularly about many things. I am trying to continue to better myself physically and mentally. I am valuing the conversations that I have had with others about life and the world. I am learning to remember to be grateful every day for my family and friends. Stuff isn’t necessary in that, at least not the stuff cluttered around here. So I’m getting rid of it. The other part of my plan is not buying Christmas presents for anyone but my family this year. If someone really wants to buy me a gift, I am going to give them a list of charities they can donate money to. While there are things I need like everyone else does, I can figure that out, I think.
I hope this has not sounded soap-boxy. I don’t mean it to be. I really just wanted to say, I’ve been bitching about a lot of things in regards to consumerism and OWS and I’m trying to align my life with my ideals. I’m trying to put my words into actions.
Edited to add:
This video sort of really sums up a lot of what I haven’t even tried to say here. It kind of makes me happy every time I watch it. I picked up the guy’s book to see what else he might have to say. Watch.