Materialism

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When I had gone to the vision board party, one of the tasks was to dream big and find pictures that represent our wishes and paste them onto the board. We had piles of magazines that ranged from gossip to golf to science. Leafing through them, I could find pretty much anything my heart desired. But there was a problem. Leafing thought the mags, I saw nothing that struck a cord. Except a picture of Jason Momoa as Aquaman because I want more tattoos. But that’s within my reach. In other words, I didn’t need a vision board to help me manifest this.

I had a feeling that this was going to happen. Having it played out in front of me confirmed that I strive to live more like a minimalist; someone who doesn’t need excessive materialistic things. To be clear, I have things: caR, I’m Appled out, an iron horse. So in that respect I’m a hypocrite. In my defense, I enjoy all of the things that I own. However, they do not bring me happiness. To me joy and happiness are two different things.

I see so many people buy things for no real reason except maybe to fill some emptiness that lies within. Instead of addressing that emptiness, they buy things to try and fill it. I think there are two basic problems with this approach. One is that the emptiness is within the individual. Second, buying something gives people that endorphin rush. I’ve been addicted to new stuff. I totally get it. But it can hurt the wallet.

My sister has five different ways of heating food up. The oven. A microwave. A toaster oven. A hot air oven. And she recently bought a portable steamer.

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An acquaintance of mine asked me what I had thought about the new iPad Pro. I told him that I went to an Apple store and played with it. Very nice. But my original iPad Pro that I had bought three years ago still works well. I do almost everything with it. Writing. Blogging. I watch all my streaming services on it; I don’t have a TV. The new iPad wouldn’t do anything different for me. He said he was thinking of upgrading.

Why, I asked.

The processor is faster, he answered.

What do you do on it that you need a faster processor?

He shrugged. I draw on it sometimes.

Dude, how fast do you draw that you need a faster processor?

Another acquaintance came up to me in Starbucks a few weeks ago. He looked excited and told me he had good news.

You get a blow job, I asked.

His eyebrows lowered against his eyes. No, I bought a new car.

Don’t you have two already?

Yeah. I traded the SUV in.

He has a sports car that he daily drives and had bought and financed a new sedan. Because he needed more room than his sports car could provide? Which is why he got rid of the SUV? Or he needed a smaller car because his SUV was too big? I was a bit confused at this point.

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The issue is that the emptiness within a person is bottomless. That person could buy everything in the world and still have that emptiness within them because they’re not trying to find out what is causing that emptiness. Instead they’re trying to fill that emptiness with stuff, and that hole is devouring it up.

The new Netflix special, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, shows how stressful people can be when they have a lot of stuff. After getting rid of the shit they don’t need, the people on the show feel relaxed and serene. We as Americans have too much stuff. I mean, it’s not a surprise that we have to either buy bigger homes or rent storage spaces in order to store our endless junk.

Hypocrites, raise your hands.

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I’m guilty. I have two cars. But at least I didn’t go into debt buying a second car.

The question should now be: What is this emptiness?

It could be anything. Lack of confidence. Loneliness. Living a purposeless life. The game is to explore yourself and find out. Honestly, that’s the fun part. For me, I knew I was a creative. So I explored different outlets before settling on writing and storytelling. That took a lot of time. For example, I delved into acting for three years before jumping out of it. But, man, that was fun. I learned so much about myself going on stage and acting. It was one of the big steps that opened me up to me. Since then, I have never left the deep end.

Appreciate, Don't Depreciate

Black face anyone?

Black face anyone?

In researching and thinking about what people in my fantasy world do, say for fun, I had to hearken back to the days of yore. Not your, nor mine, but yore (woulda worked better verbally). Specifically, the medieval days because technologically that’s where my world relates closest. Being a huge fan of the Renaissance Faire, I get a slight glimpse of a world that once existed. In those times, there wasn’t much to do except follow a craft: glass blowing, blacksmithing, or delve into the arts like painting, sculpting, acting, writing. Plays were huge back then. And the Royal Court was a huge orgy. But if you couldn’t go to those things, then what did people do in those days of yore?

Earth Theater...I mean Globe Theater

Earth Theater...I mean Globe Theater

Aside from all the chores that needed to be done (there were a lot), there wasn’t much. So delving into a craft or an art was ideal, from my point of view. I suppose if I lived in my world, which I do every day, then I’d be a storyteller.

However, today we have access to thousands of things that can entertain us and turn our minds into a pile of mush. Yes, we can dive into a craft or explore an art form, but for most neither of those constitutes making a living. As a result, we watch TV, watch a ball game, a boxing match, go to the pub, hang out with friends, then there’s movies. But I think the biggest luxury came about in 2007: the iPhone.

That's a big iPhone

That's a big iPhone

When I got it as a gift (thanks bro!) it changed my world. I listened to music, lectures, surfed the web a lot more than I did on my computer, played games (most were web games since the app store had yet to exist).

The world changed again. Apple released the iPad.  I told myself, I don’t need an iPad. If the iPad 2 was a massive improvement, then I’d get one. For now, at least, my iPhone was enough.

The iPad 2 came out. I played with it at the store, but was under whelmed. Then my girlfriend at the time gave me one for my birthday (thanks!). Now, I rarely use my computer to surf the web. I carry my iPad with me all the time. I'm an Apple freak!  Ugh. Gawd help me lawd.

Apple just recently announced the iPad Mini. Yeah. A miniature version of the iPad. Clever. A lot of people are complaining that Apple used old technology (based on the iPad 2), that the resolution of the screen is worse than the top competitors, that the pricing is way too high. How spoiled are we when we complain that technology is too old. My iPad 2 is still pretty awesome, despite it being ancient tech. And I’m not even tempted to buy the iPad 4, which apparently is about a thousand times better than what I have. So what?

There are starving children in the world. Children who don’t know when their next meal will come. Where the real enemy is starvation. That is a real problem.

I’d recently watched Gerard Butler in MACHINE GUN PREACHER. Yeah. He’s a preacher who literally carries a machine gun. He plays a real life preacher who dedicates his life to rescuing children in Sudan from being raped, killed and turned into soldiers. I doubt those kids complain about the iPad Mini being old tech.

For most of us who live in the Western world, we should take a moment and appreciate all the wonderful things we have. Sure. There will always be people who have more, who do more amazing things, who seemingly live a better life. But none of those things will make us happier, give us fulfillment, or enrich our lives. Having more stuff, more wealth can definitely enhance your life. Got an iPad 2, but want the best of the best? Then get an iPad 4. Shit. Buy a whole bunch. Just don’t expect it to make you happy.

Excuse me. There's a lemon in my martini

Excuse me. There's a lemon in my martini

Browsing through Facebook, I found a lot of my friends are partying a lot. Unfortunately, most of these events are held at night. I work a day job so the only time I can workout and write is after, during those cool events. So I either forgo the little time I have to write, and sculpt my body into a Chinese God (don’t know if they’re as buff as Greek Gods), or do what I really want. Partying and meeting new people while talking about nonsense was never my thing. So the choice, which was never a choice to begin with, was easy. I may never get published, in the traditional sense. But I do feel lucky that I can write the stories that flutter in my mind.

With the holidays arriving faster than Santa can deliver presents, appreciate all that you have, see that most of our problems aren’t, and enjoy life as it presents itself to us.