Resistance

Earlier this week, we sold a book called I Want That!: How We All Became Shoppers by Thomas Hine.  The blurb about it reads:

“Shopping has a lot in common with sex,” Thomas Hine observes near the beginning of this wide-ranging exploration of the history and psychology of one of the most commonplace and important activities of modern life. “Just about everybody does it. Some people brag about how well they do it. Some keep it a secret. Most people worry, at least a little, about whether they do it right. And both provide ample opportunities to make foolish choices.”

Choosing and using objects is a primal human activity, and I Want That! is nothing less than a portrait of humanity as the species that shops. ”

Me?  I hate shopping.  My first reaction is always, “I don’t want that.”   I have been thinking about getting a place in a more rural area of Wisconsin.  Lying in the bathtub this morning, I was struck by a realization.  Even if I pay cash for the real estate (from the sale of my former home), I still would have to pay property tax every year.  I don’t want that.

I don’t want to be indebted; I don’t want to be obligated.  I don’t want to be coerced or pressured into a relationship with any thing.  I am beginning to feel a mounting sense of resistance.  I’ve resisted getting a full time job for more than a year.  I’ve resisted being a consumer, especially of clothing and beauty products.  I’ve resisted Facebook.  I’ve resisted television and movies.  What is that about for me?

I am still struggling to be my own person, I guess.  I am struggling to focus on the things that I do want in a manner that I like.  I’m not ambitious.  I am an observer, an appreciator, but not much of a go-getter.  I resist marketing, for sure, but I don’t mind discovery.   Maybe part of that is simple laziness.  Maybe part of that is wanting the freedom to choose my relationships and responsibilities.

When I first read that comment about shopping having a lot in common with sex, I didn’t get it.  I hate shopping.  I love sex.  I suppose my consistency is in insisting on having the freedom to be very particular about my engagement with both.

And now, for the photo portion of my blog.  Choosing images and focusing where I want to, observing and appreciating has led me to these shots.  If you discover you like them, great.  I will not try to convince you to, though.  (Do I sound testy?  Okay, so be it.)

A fungus among us

The pod people have hatched

9 thoughts on “Resistance

  1. Hi again Priscilla! I’m loving your blog, so I hope you don’t mind if I keep responding. Don’t feel like you have to respond to my comments.

    I was also scratching my head over that “shopping is like sex” comment. They have about as much in common as an apple has with the human heart. I guess they can both be done compulsively, have mood altering effects, can be used for comfort. But sex is also mixed up with the deepest issues of the human heart: receiving and giving love, calming fears of abandonment and worthlessness, healing shame, enjoying companionship etc. etc. Makes me suspect that the publishing factotem who composed the blurb was doing a little bit of point-and-click writing there: “Write about sex, my boy! That’ll bring the eyeballs!”

    I also really hate shopping. I guess I’m getting crotchety in my old age, but I’m getting sensitive to when people try to rob me of my humanity. The most important part of my humanity is my free will, and to have my choices guided by what gives my life the most meaning. I feel hundreds of grabbing hands, hear hundreds of honeyed enticements, trying to steal my freedom to choose. When talking about this, I tend to lapse into metaphors involving animals. The PR departments and advertisers that brainwash me into believing and buying stuff are predators; upper level managers of large corporations are ranchers packing workers into iron cribs to have their labor, hides, meat and organs taken from them. Just like the dairy farmers who have found that cows give more milk when they play Elvis records over the speakers, we have a huge media infrastructure that mollifies all the domesticated animals into accepting the priorities of the wealthy and powerful.

    Back in the days when I was a good Christian at Harvey Mudd, I read that Bonhoffer book “Life Together.” One of his points (hopefully my 32 year old memory is getting this right) was that in true Christian community, no person has a direct relationship with anyone else. Every relationship is mediated by Christ. Thus, when I’m interacting with someone, I’m not scraping and clawing that person with my grabby needy little hands, hoping that consuming a little bit of him will fill my need for comfort, or love, or self esteem. Since all of my needs are satisfied by Christ, I can treat each person with respect, love and tolerance.

    That idea bothered me when I first read it. I love giving and receiving love, encouragment and affection. I felt that the connection of love with another person is what brings about God’s presence between us. I felt that love and affection, having a good heart towards that other person, has to come first, and then Christ mediates the relationship. But now I kind of see Bonhoffer’s point, especially since I’m so often blind to when I think I’m giving love freely when in fact I’m manipulating the other person into liking or affirming me, or trying to get some other need met.

    I’d write more, but I have to go shopping.

    • We keep a quote from Carl Jung on the refrigerator: “Where love rules, there is no will to power; and where power predominates, there love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.” It’s difficult to be searingly honest with yourself about whether or not you are willing power in a relationship and whether or not you are allowing love to rule. There are many communities who do endeavor to live with love as their rule and as a sort of mediator in every relationship and who concentrate on letting go of the ego. I think of Buddhist monks who sit in meditation and practice non-manipulation on inner levels I’m only just beginning to imagine. Some of my best “grabby needy” work is stuff I inflict on myself!

      • That Jung quote really says it all for me. And my will to power always eminates from feelings of shame, inferiority, deprivation, etc. Mostly shame.
        It’s cool that you have such wisdom on your fridge, such daily triggers for mindfulness. All I have on my fridge is the phone number for Lucille’s Barbeque.

  2. I hate shopping and love sex too ( not that I’m in a position to be getting any at the moment 😦 )
    I too resist the must have culture but think it’s because I yearn for a simpler life, less cluttered with “things” and less complicated. I don’t want to be sucked back into consumerism. Is that it with you too maybe?
    I did give in to facebook a couple of years ago though and I’m so glad I did as I have found old frends and gained new ones that I have now met in “real” life..

  3. I have resorted to “retail therapy” when I wanted to pick up my mood a bit. It is different from shopping for essentials in that I allow myself to buy something simply for the pleasure and novelty of having it. There is also the thrill of the hunt — will I find something I like for a price I’m willing to pay? I don’t spend a lot when I shop, as I often shop at second-hand stores. I like the contemplation on variety — racks of tops sorted by color instead of size — and the feeling that I change something about myself when I wear something different. I buy clothes for their sensuality, the softness of cashmere or the richness of a salmon color for instance, and wearing them can be fun.

    I spent a lot of my life resisting the encroachment of all the things I saw as “not me”. Right now, I am in a period of expansiveness where I question my judgment on what is “me” and what isn’t. I want to reduce the limitations I set on myself to be more fully expressive of the kaleidoscopic array of who I am. It is very eye-opening to embrace what seems very other and to find some resonance with it inside myself. That doesn’t mean that I necessarily make big changes in what I do or how I live. It just means that I feel more satisfied by the choices that I do make.

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