7.26.2011

combating consumerism by creating

The passion that leads most of us to buy things is not the passion for the item itself – or for the act of the purchase, but the joy we get from the passion in it. The item is the embodiment of someone’s art and passion, and offers the potential to live vicariously through those who are living their own joy.

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To combat consumerism, we have to create from our passions, to make out of love. To be able to create the things or the feelings that we want is so much more fulfilling that collecting the products of someone else’s passions.

I think that passion is meant to make work more enjoyable, more desirable. A passion inclines people to want to get up and do something – whatever it may be – and to be productive. Passions are about doing, creating, improving, investing – not about consuming.

In our culture, happiness has become so enmeshed with consumption that it’s sometimes hard to differentiate life from purchase. Shopping to cure boredom or loneliness or to create an experience is empty. I know this – yet I still sometimes find myself pining away for what others have. I want the sleek, sexy pumps that in reality I hate walking in. I want the art hanging on the walls. I want the new TV or the fancy phone or the library full of books. I want to collect and consume these things, all the while knowing that consumption of more things won’t make me happy – it will in fact make me more frustrated with my life, looming over me from shelves stacked too high and too many things to maintain, clean and keep track of.

I find so much more joy when I actually take the time to be content with what I have, to pare my life down to what is functional and what I truly love, and to spend my time and energy creating.

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A new TV, purse, pair of shoes or fancy toy won’t fulfill that human need – passion – for more than a few moments. We watch sports, movies, TV, we buy clothes and shoes and video games, we eat out, drink wine, and walk through design showcases in order to be closer to the glow that comes off of the product of someone’s passion. Purchases are exciting because they are the embodiment of passion – someone else’s passion.

I don’t intend to say that I should never buy anything – that’s certainly impossible. When I do buy things, I try to buy things that were made with passion, inspiration, joy.

As I continually combat the excess and consumerism in my life and try to allow more space for contentment and moments of joy, I have to remind myself to turn away from consumption and toward creation.

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