So, in this past year of reduction & renovation in our lives, we’ve come to learn a few things about ourselves and our approach to life.
I was spurred to write this after reading Leo Babauta’s short dissertation on minimalism. He advocates avoiding the advertising and media that fans the flames of material desire. Now… I adore Leo & read his blog religiously, however, I think I have developed a different approach to paring down and reducing the “wants”.
Let me start by saying – i’m nowhere near the level a minimalist that Leo is, and tho i aspire to get lighter every day, I’m not sure I want to be quite as light as he is. We’ll see… I don’t call myself a minimalist, yet. I have much more crap to get rid of before that’s a reality. But it STARTS with putting a halt to the acquisition of stuff.
Now, back to the avoidance of media & advertising to quell the “wants”.
I know quite a few people who ardently mute out the ads on tv, or refuse to buy glossy mags because of the advertising, etc.
I am not one of those people.
I actually LOVE advertising. I appreciate its creativity – or distinct lack thereof – and spend my time trying to unravel what the advertiser hoped to elicit in me in order to make me buy… what are they trying to make me think? what do they want me to feel?
Now, i don’t buy Cosmo or those other magazines full of crap. Not because they are full of advertising, but because the non-advertising pages are not worth my brain cells. There was a time when I bought that magazine religiously, every month… thankfully that time ended decades ago, and it really should for millions of other women too. I don’t know what happened to Cosmo but Ian & I recently looked at a copy that was lying around at a friend’s house, and were shocked at the drivel it pushes. For a magazine that at one time was a leader in the women’s revolution, it has dragged us down to a level i will not support. Pure crap.
But I digress…
Advertising can be extremely entertaining. Especially advertising that’s perhaps not been vetted by a committee or at least had the copy read a couple times by someone other than it’s writer. Take the current Tide commercials, for example… “Style is an option. Clean is not.” So, what? i don’t have an option to be clean?? I think what they meant to say was, “Style is optional. Clean is not.” See the EXTREME difference? (Thankfully, someone else agrees with me who is obviously far better qualified to pronounce it questionable.)
Poor grammar isn’t gonna help me want to buy Tide. Ever.
My point here is… not giving into consumerist propaganda like advertising is more about YOU than the advertising. Avoidance and denial of its existence is one way to reduce the opportunities to want stuff, for sure. But ultimately, it comes down to choosing in favour of yourself, and your greater desire to be lighter and less encumbered – than your desire to have “stuff”. Leo is certainly right in that we all want… it’s human nature. Becoming “not-wanting” seems somewhat inhuman, to me. And denying desire as a form of punishment seems somewhat inhumane, to me. Learning to choose to NOT acquire something, because that choice honours your desire to have less and make a smaller impact, and carry fewer burdens, and leave your mind & soul free for more expansive pursuits… THAT seems like a good plan, to me.
Thanks, Leo, for giving me an opportunity to think thru my own idea on this. You have provided me with MANY opportunities for such contemplation over the past year, and I look forward to many more.