Week one away from kemosabe and living life in the land of the free. I can’t quite say that the clan and I now have our living patterns smack in the bag since we are yet to lay “witness dawn’s early light” owing to a severe case of jet-lag, but we are just about close to “catching the gleam of the morning’s first beam”. Almost. Maybe give it a few more days.
Had the pleasure of calling in for a visit the other day to the US Bureau of engraving and printing in Fort Worth, Texas where I was told listening through a prehistoric mobile looking piece of contraption placed close to my ear, that 80% of the American smackers and moolas are printed here in Fort Worth for this country’s Reserve Banks. Walking along an elevated platform witnessing how clean sheets of what seemed like B4 sized paper undergo the process of transformation and come out as freshly printed one dollar and hundred dollar bills, I could not help but reflect on a quote once made by Franklyn Roosevelt,
“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Having spent time living here in the past and now returning back in the guise of a tourist, I am afforded the fortuity of surveying the abundance and resources bestowed upon those residing in this country. Now living in New Zealand, I cannot help but walk the local shopping aisles here, with their huge product range at a wide assortment of prices and not not feel slightly cheated that I am unable to get the same mode of offerings in my home country. Life is indeed unfair. All around me, people are surrounded by what can only be recognized as ‘materialistic abundance’. For example, I walk into Walmart with an aim to simply (in my head) procure a bottle of shampoo. What I end up with, an hour later, are four bottles of hair products – a ‘clarifying’ wash, a ‘deep’ conditioning wash, a ‘leave-in-even-deeper’ conditioner, and a dry shampoo spray for days when I am in a rush and don’t have time to wash. The problem is not that it took me forever to decide on what brand or product to choose from. The issue is not even the assortment of prices to pick at. The dilemma I have is that I thoroughly, wholeheartedly, enjoyed that shopping experience. I love, love choices. I just delight and relish in this whole experience of skimming the shelves and oogling at all the different types of, in this case, hair care products provided to the American public. It is crazy! Mind numbing. But, nevertheless, however, on the hand – do I really necessarily need so much empowerment when it comes to picking a simple item? How do I draw the line between what I need and what I want? Lionel Shriver once said,
“A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.”
Perhaps just because we are not able to get something does not necessarily mean that we need that item in the first place. Perhaps the mere presentation of so many ‘stuff’ around us makes us believe that we require these so-called provisions. As Bertrand Russell eloquently said,
“It is the preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else that prevents us from living freely and nobly.”
So, as much as I desire choices and pickings, I think I’d much rather be a Kiwi with a black dog and living a totes amazeballs life, the simple way. Maybe it is by living simply, without the frills and thrills that makes me more sensitive to those around me who are afforded even less than I am. Maybe.
“Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as one, two, three and not a hundred or a thousand… We are happy in proportion to the things we can do without.” – Henry David Thoreau