I was lied to. So were you. We were told we needed gigantic homes, supersized food, and tons of shirts to place in our already overflowing closets. We were told to purchase purses for every occasion, and own plates for every holiday. We were told that the more we had, the wealthier, more esteemed, we would be.
But that is a lie. A lie that has been passed to our children.
One day, long ago, I first discovered that lie. My youngest son had been playing at a friend’s house. He came home, walked into our house and looked around. With large, innocent blue eyes, he looked up at me and asked, “Are we poor?”
“What?” I was shocked, and more than a little confused.
We didn’t own a ton, a loveseat, sofa, and coffee table sat in the center of our living room. At the far end was a piano, and by the entry were two small chairs. No knick-knacks were placed on the table, except for one small vase that held a few roses from our garden. On the walls were two pictures.
“No,” I said, “We are not poor.” I didn’t understand why he was asking. But I do now.
One day, I had the opportunity to walk into his friend’s house. It was filled, every room contained oodles of toys, framed pictures, tiny vases and piles of books. Every room was a masterpiece of consumerism.
But here’s the irony. Consumerism works the other way as well. There are groups who tell us not to buy, that purchasing products places stress on society, makes us unfulfilled and unhappy. That we are creating a world reliant on junk.
But that’s a lie as well.
Because the truth is, somewhere between all-and-nothing is a middle where happiness lives.
I don’t think happiness rests in owning too much, that we can find joy in a closet overfilled with clothes and boots. But I’m honestly not sure happiness rests in owning nothing, either. Some things make us happy, like paints and a canvas, or a book read over and over again. Sometimes it’s okay to buy a little happiness.
I wish we could find that happy middle, that we didn’t have fight so hard against mixed messages. But the fact is, we are an all-or-nothing society, and it’s each person’s right to feel as they will.
It’s also our right to not listen.
I think it’s time we fight back, and listen to ourselves. It’s time to stop buying everything to show our worth, and time to stop throwing it all away to erase our guilt.
It’s time to be who you are, and stop the mixed messages of an all-or-nothing society.