American emptiness

When did our lives become so empty? When did we start filling ourselves up with and defining our worth with things? It’s depressing.

I’m currently reading “Living Large: From SUVs to Double Ds Why Going Bigger Isn’t Going Better” by Sarah Z. Wexler. I finished chapter 6 on my way home from work – a depressing day at that, reporting on the aftermath of the Boston Marathon attack – and got even sadder. The chapter featured DeShawn, a teen who chose a Wal-Mart shopping spree for his Make-a-Wish day. DeShawn’s reasons for wanting things make sense. He is mainly confined to his bedroom, so the tech-loving young man wanted to make it a cool place to be. He bought a computer and system for music creating and editing.

Still, the chapter made me sad. He didn’t pick out anything for his parents or the siblings who accompanied him on the shopping trip. I don’t mean to judge the kid. He’s facing something I haven’t faced and what he wishes for is his business. It just got me thinking about how we consume (that is the whole point of the book).

A favorite game of Americans is to fantasize about winning the lottery. I don’t need to win millions in the lottery or anything, but winning a grand would be awesome. I’m on a tight budget. That would make a difference. I could afford to buy some furniture for my apartment. With $5,000, I could pay off my student loan and be done with that once and for all. With a million, though, I could start a scholarship fund. I’d love to do that. And buy a Chelsea apartment with in-unit laundry. Heaven!

But I don’t need these things. I have everything I need in life. I have a job that allows me to live in Manhattan. That’s not nothing. I can admire the blooms and appreciate a sunset in Central Park for free. I can enjoy a conversation with any one of the 8 million interesting people in this city.

Yet, the allure of consumption is always there. Am I right? My friend AJ and I were chatting this weekend. He said, “the only reason TV exists is for the commercials to sell things.” I’m not quite as jaded about TV, but it’s a weird thing, isn’t it? It’s a way to fill up our lives, but it means nothing. It’s an escape. Some of it it fantastic literature played out (even AJ can appreciate that). Lots of it is crap.

Food for thought on a sad day.

Published by Candace

I’m a journalist, nutritionist, doting auntie, one-time bobsledder, and wannabe health nut (who loves chocolate and pizza too much to fully commit). I don't want you to think my life is perfect. It's not.

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