Consumerism – The Answer to all Life’s problems?

Last week I found myself shopping at the local mall. Although it is a place that I loathed before having children, I now venture there on almost a weekly basis because of how convenient it is. Free parking, all on one level, undercover. A dream for a woman carting around a pram and a two year old.

This particular shopping trip, I was on the hunt for photo frames. A while ago, I spotted an article in a lifestyle magazine which suggested using one wall in the hallway to display photographs like an art gallery. What a fantastic idea, I thought.  So here I was after weeks of carefully selecting from my family photos, attempting to find an array of different sized/ different shaped photo frames to display them. In reality, this was surprisingly difficult. Despite all the shops that I visited, all of the photoframes were rather uniform.

Stood in John Lewis, I found myself frozen on the spot, wondering why the hell I was there, why I was surrounded by hundreds of shoppers, all out to buy something new to perfect their houses and therefore their lives. I had to ask myself why I spent so much time shopping? Why I felt it important to create this ‘gallery’ on my wall for all to see?  And then it hit me. My relationship with my parents has felt somewhat strained since my own children came on the scene, and I realised that by carrying out this methodical approach of adding family photos to the wall, I would somehow bridge that gap, thus making everything better. Well let’s be honest, it won’t. Perhaps people will come round to my house and admire the photos of my beautiful children, and smile at the pictures of my parents, wishing they were closer to their own families. The same way everyone’s perfect lives are there for everyone to see on Facebook.

But the only real way I can actually bridge the gap between myself and my parents is to talk to them; to address some of the issues that I have been bottling up inside. (I can’t see this happening anytime soon; I despise confrontations, I’m more of a head-in-the-sand kinda girl).

More and more, I feel I’m losing control, that I am totally missing the true point to life. I’m surrounded by crap I don’t need, I’m constantly buying storage solutions to somehow organise my life. I see all these wise slogans in friends’ houses and on Facebook: “Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect”, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… it’s learning to dance in the rain.” We all know these gems of advice, but is anyone actually living by them? Do we hide behind them, telling ourselves that one day we will be a better parent/son/daughter/neighbour?

Today, I am going to write a list of things I want to change, why wait until New Years Eve? I want to practice on my keyboard more/ read more/ chat to the neighbours instead of darting straight from my car to the safety of my home. I want to listen to more live music/eat different foods/ avoid the TV as much as humanly possible. Maybe I’ll try snowboarding (that one would make my husband happy), invite my mum out for coffee rather than cowering when she rings, and this is the big one…..start speaking to people on the phone rather than texting. These are all minute changes, but they’re huge too. It’s about time I started participating in life, rather than letting life happen around me. And if everyone did this, surely the world would become a little happier, a little less self centred.

I finished my photo wall, and my mum said she thought it was thoughtful I had included my grandparents. So maybe it did bring us a little closer in the end. We still need to have that chat though. Maybe one day…..

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