Friday, May 27, 2016

Torrid Consumer Affair

Torrid Consumer Affair
When you walk through downtown areas, you always find an array of charming stores that are owned by small business people. There is a new trend in shopping plaza/malls now. It is recreating the look and feel of a charming downtown area and filling it with the chain stores that you see in every other plaza just like it. While they are building these homages to a downtown area, many of these towns have an actual downtown area with a main street that is dilapidated and crumbling.

The stores in these faux downtowns are mostly the ones that the average single parent on a limited income cannot shop at, but they do anyway because this is where all the bored housewives and executives go and their kids are in school together. It is a torrid consumer affair that like any torrid affair has consequences. Debt loads rise, small individual shops continue to struggle, underpaid employees of multi billion dollar organizations continue to suffer the rude behavior of thoughtless men and women wearing Hugo Boss and Prada, and so on.

In life, many of us live simple lives. We are not executives or bored housewives. We are scraping by in a dilapidated and worn life that could have beauty if it were invested in. It could be built on. But we will ignore the life we already have and try to build one that looks like that life but more idyllic, but we cannot afford the cost of this new life. We lie, we cover the outside with things we cannot afford. We load our children with things we cannot afford while love and attention suffers. We spend time with people who, like these corporations, could care less about us. 

We are who we are. If we are a little run down and worn out, there is not a damn thing wrong with that. If we are simple in our budget and our finances, not a thing wrong with not having the latest trends. We do not need to have the sordid consumer affair. We do not need to have the faux projection of a real life when the real life is just fine, nothing to be ashamed of, and has charm and character. The lives we are trying to emulate are often the most vapid and empty. Beyond the image and the brand names and the things is someone who is just as miserable and confused and alone as we are. May as well live within our means and stop pretending if that is the case.

My ex makes a lot more than I do. Our child wants for nothing material. I know many divorced parents who live in that disparity of incomes who try to keep up. I do not. She can buy him a PS4 and laptop for Christmas. That is fine and not a thing wrong with it.  I can get some clever irreverent t shirts and art supplies. He loves them. Sometimes I will have him for the weekend and he will ask if we can do x or y and I will say, "Boy, I would love to, but I really cannot afford that this week, how about abc or 123?" He always says all right because he gets it. I have put up no facade and he has been raised to see material possessions as just that...things. He finds his joy in art and drawing and creating. He finds joy in his friendships. He could have anything he wants and he wants to draw and spend time with friends and volunteer with his friends to help others. 

We are who we are. We make what we make. Our lives are what they are. While we live our torrid consumer affairs, there is a 15 year old who just loves to create, spend time with good and honest friends without pretense, and help others. Why do we make life so hard? What makes him happy sounds rather delightful. 

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