A conversation from a few months ago came back to my memory today. I was chatting with my sister, sending random text messages back and forth about how our days are going, what happened lately in the family and so on and so forth. Suddenly she sends me a picture of a shiny jewelled and quite heavy looking silver ring she got from her boyfriend and instead of answering in any kind of way, I blacked out for a tiny second.
I didn’t black out because of what the ring “might” stand for – Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t an engagement ring – but because of the simple fact that I had absolutely no response to it.
If you would have shown me a beautiful piece of jewellery a few years ago that your BOYFRIEND – Hello, desperate and lonely teen memories! – gave you as a TOKEN OF LOVE, I might have definitely responded in a more “girl-appropriate” kind of way. Even if I might not have liked that particular kind of style of the jewel, I would still have admired it for a while and felt happy for my sister receiving a gift like that from her partner.
But now, a piece of jewellery cannot make me feel anything and I realized that at that very moment.
Of course, I asked her the obvious question – if that’s her engagement ring – trying to be funny and really just making up for the fact that this simple object doesn’t make me feel a single thing and I can’t really show that to her in order not to hurt her feelings.
But this story is neither about my sister nor about her ring in particular, it’s about materialism, about worshiping objects and mistaking them for symbols of love and about how I truly realized that none of that is actually important to a human being. And when I say “truly realized”, I don’t mean just being aware of the fact that our society is drowning in its mindless consumerism and forgetting about it again the second we see something new worth buying, I mean knowing with all my heart that not a single object in this world could ever make me happy.
After my teenage years, in which I loved accumulating stuff and dreamed about big and shiny material things myself, I always had a slight tendency to minimalism. – The fact that my room looked quite different from that is a story for another time though.
But before that I – just as a pathetically high number of other people out there – falsely believed that objects could make me happy, feel better about myself and even worse, that they actually mean something to me and have something to do with LOVE. Not to mention the act of receiving and giving away tons of presents on birthdays and holidays, each time just a little bit more expensive, more exclusive, because that’s how it’s done, it’s expected and it’s the right thing to do.
Sure, this is nothing new. Go google about consumerism or materialism and you will read the exact same thing I just wrote about on thousands of other blogs. A lot of people think and act that way, so I was definitely no exception.
Exactly two years ago, my life did a 180 though: My job, my relationship status, my place of residence, almost all of my personal belongings, the people that surrounded me, the people that are important to me and even the language I spoke back then 24/7… so yeah, you could really say that almost EVERYTHING in my life changed.
When this change happened, it might not have initiated my change of heart over these kinds of things, since I already had that “less is more” mentality somewhere in my mind when I was a little older, but it definitely strengthened it to what it is now.
My partner, the one who became the most important person in my life two years ago, didn’t do all of these things that I was used to. Things like…
…buying expensive birthday gifts – because you kind of have to…
…buying expensive christmas gifts – because… well again… you kind of have to…
…buying even more expensive gifts for your partner – because that’s how love is expressed and… uhm… you kind of have to, right?
He just didn’t do all of that and almost immediately I embraced this new way of living. I could feel a weight taken off of my shoulders and that endless vicious circle just stopped dragging me along with it.
When I now see somebody showing off their newest acquisition on social media or personally talks to me about it, all that I see is a BURDEN.
I see MONEY, stupid pieces of paper people do nothing but fight, lie and betray each other about. I see WASTED TIME and LABOR that went not only into accumulating that money in order to afford that particular object, but also in producing something that nobody really needs and that doesn’t serve any good cause. And I see MORE WASTE that will burden the planet until nothing is left of it.
Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not against presents that truly come from the heart and are well thought through, or random objects that for whatever reason “truly spark joy” to you. – Yes, Marie Kondo has not failed to leave her mark on me as well… But many people cannot differentiate between the things they truly need, and the things that are just too much in their lives, that will not help them in any way and will weigh them down instead.
I’m not a saint either when it comes to this and I still have a long way to go, but when I observe my family and friends currently aiming for bigger living spaces, drowning them in tons of decorations, extra furniture and equipment that will not be needed in the end, I can’t help but see wasted money that could be used for so much more important things, if they would only open their eyes.
When they present me their newest ideas and purchases, I’m asking myself for whom they are really acquiring all that stuff for? How much time will they really spent in their big house when they have a full time job and daily errands to run? How much time will they have to enjoy it until they get used to all of it again and need even more, even better things?
What’s important in the end
I’m writing a fictional story at the moment and the antagonist there also believes he needs something in his life in order to be happy and to really be “alive”, but in the end he has to realize that he just has to go back to his true self in order to be fulfilled.
Just like this character we have to understand that all the stuff in life we truly need is pretty basic and that the most important thing out there is love – as cheesy as it sounds.
We need a lot of love for ourselves and love and compassion for others out there and the best you can do is to learn this lesson early enough in your life.
You see, it might require an enormous amount of hard work in order to finally afford a house, a car or a shiny piece of jewellery, but it’s even harder to find that peace and love within yourself that will reveal to you what’s really important on this planet and what we should actually work towards in that limited time frame that is given to us.