We live in a strange time of innovation and marketing which provokes desire, and creates the illusion of necessity. It’s a constant mental obstacle to defend against the compulsion of want and longing for that sexy new cheese grater, or that too-big-to-hold-iPhone 6 with a 5.5″screen. We are a culture obsessed with commodity and ownership. Without getting too tangential, I believe that Freudian’s exploration of the “Id”, “Ego”, and “Super-ego” is relevant to decoding the complex emotions that trigger the flashing synapses in our brains when we see signs for “SALE”or “NEW”. In essence, we as humans have evolved to weigh out decision making through these three channels of consciousness in order to NOT act on all of our desires. But we are a world obsessed, and although there are some good obsessions, the idea of desire and acquisition seems intrinsically wrong, if only for the fact that it can teeter on the spectrum of greed.
I guess what started my existential downward spiral was this weeks release of Apples new iPhone 6 and smart watch. I’ve been reading all the reviews and hype over the new specs and features finding myself a click away from preordering it. Why? Because the new iPhone is even SEXIER, and BETTER. But I stopped myself as my ego kicked me into reality. The truth of the matter is, I don’t NEED another smartphone, because the iPhone that I have now works perfectly fine. Sure there’s a broken lock button, and the mute switch has a mind of its own, and the battery charge only lasts half the day, but other than that it’s great. Really great.
Lately I’ve been on a cleansing kick to get rid of things in my apartment that I have no use for anymore. This in part was motivated by my move a few months ago, and I got to see the sheer amount and volume of the things I owned in a tall stacked pile within a 18′ moving van. That was a reality check. I own too much shit (and thats the truth), and most of it is crap. So I spent a fairly long time shedding my belongings and trying purposely not to hide things in the closet. A new rule was applied: If i don’t see it, then I don’t need it, versus the old saying, “out of sight, out of mind.” The decluttering process is constant as I continue to question the value and worth of my possessions.
So here I am, in this paradox of wanting new and shiny things, to wanting to completely shed all material things. We know that is only possible if you’re the Dali Lama, so I’ve accepted the human-ness of desire. In critiquing my own behavior as of late with the new iPhone, I could continue being that sucker that bought every model of phone up to date, or I could just say enough is enough. I’ve shifted from wanting quantity to quality, and in that shift I’m learning to let go, avoid the obnoxious ads, and tread a little more mindfully though the world.