Black (Hole) Friday
Alternatives to filling up your space with stuff.
So...have we adequately chewed up and spit out all the stuff we bought last year at this time?
For me, Black Friday represents the emptying out of our souls. An endless, bottomless pit. Melodramatic, I know—but I'm trying to get my point across here.
Remember a couple of years ago, when two people were trampled in a stampede at Wal-Mart on Black Friday? They were rushing to get the very latest and greatest gidgety-gadgety-definiton-of-cool thing. What is that all about? A stampede of people? Not protesting, not rallying, not communing, but shopping. Crazy.
I have to be careful with my disdain for Black Friday. I can come across as a real jerk when I talk about my hatred of accumulation. I want you to know that I understand there are bargains to be had, especially in this very tough economy. I am not above it, and personally, though I loathe the consumerism that consumes us, I willingly flock to Target's call.
There's a part of me that wishes I lived in a land of hard farm work, candlelight book-reading and hand-spun sweaters. Then there is my other side; she prefers shoes and pocketbooks and nice meals out with friends. I wrestle between the two and have decided for my own piece of mind to live relatively frugally with moments of luxury.
To this end, I have a confession. A secret obsession. I love to watch any show about hoarding. I can't seem to look away. I snuggle up into bed, put on my "do-not-disturb-the-husband," headphones and head for the first possible sighting of a hoarder.
Why do these people keep all this stuff? Why do they keep shopping and what need are they trying to fill? Do people in much poorer nations hoard? I am fascinated by the psychology. I am awed by the seemingly endless binge of excess. And I am amazed by people's defense of it.
What's going on here?
Here's my theory. We all have a personal well that needs filling to feel whole and worthwhile and loved. Each of us makes choices about what we put in our well. Some wells are bigger than others. We have a hard time making good choices about what goes into our well. There are many options to bring us instant gratification. Instant filling. So tempting. The list of mental afflictions and addictions that correspond with our endless search for inner equilibrium is an extensive one. (This won't stay heavy too much longer so bear with me...)
The good news is, when we top off the well, we're able to give. The secret to topping off your well is moderation. Just ask my husband; he uses this word to teach our kids everything from cupcake-to-frosting ratio, to spending and saving. Too much or too little of ANY one thing never can fill the space we feel inside.
So, instead of feeding on more stuff, or more debt, or more emptiness, try these three simple tasks this holiday to lighten your load and fill your well.
1. Re-gift. Don't go calling Emily Post; I'm not suggesting that you eat half a cookie and wrap it new or try and pawn off an old broken clock. But if you have something special that you are saving for someone, ask yourself why. A family heirloom, a shared love of books, or a prized piece of jewelry—those things can bring joy and meaning now. Share them. Watch the love spread.
2. Fill the space with music. Corny, right? Not so much. Music, like food, is a sensory activator. Give music, listen to music and give yourself permission to sing a bit, even if it's in your shower or your car. Music soothes the savage beast.
3. Share and receive love. Wherever your spirituality takes you, accept love from others and fill up your well with the real gift right in front of you instead of the manufactured gifts they make you think will fill you. They won't.