Friday, June 22, 2007

Change, Progress and Surround Sound systems

"All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward." (e. glasgow)

Security in sameness. Is new and different always better? Why are we always seeking to have something more stylish (who are you allowing to define style anyway?), different, trendier (trendy always gets boring quickly does it not?)? (Rebecca Sower)

So... a couple of days ago, Ali turned me on to a post on Rebecca's Blog , which got me thinking...

Lots of things change...Scott is fond of saying "All in the name of progress." To which, I'm fond of saying, "Is it progress???"

I'm just not certain that I enjoy the kinds of changes that happen around me.

Does that mean I'm getting old?

Or that I've finally figured out that its not all about the change, change, change...but about what is meaningful, soulful, purposeful, deliberate, with attention to the details...

Scott got a surround sound system as a gift from his dad on Father's Day. Frankly, I hate the thing. There are lots of, we don't need it in our small living room. Two, it leaves my already very full living room feeling cluttered and overstuffed. Three, it encourages loud tv watching...something I've grown less and less patient about. The noise gets on my nerves. And represents something we definately do not need.

I was completely irritated at seeing the different components added to the space around the TV and one word came to me that has just been poking at me ever since...



I'm weary of all this unnecessary consumerism. WHY do we need big screened tvs and all the speakers and 10 million channels of junk? WHY do we need DVD players in our cars? WHY do we need to get our e-mail on our cell phones while we are having dinner with our family?

I am as enamored with technology as the next guy. I like shiny cool new things...but I'm really not convinced that they add one single good thing to our lives. And the pressure to keep up with the Jones' as it were, is a whole lot of pressure.

About five years ago, we started a plan to be completely debt free. Its hard work to be debt free. You forgo some cool things and the ability to buy now, pay later when you decide to be debt free.

But I can honestly say, you really get in touch with how much you buy when you decide NOT to anymore. I found out that $40 for a pair of sandals could be a lot of money if that same $40 could buy my groceries for the week. I found out that spending the money on classic, reliable clothing was better spent than chasing the trends. I also found out I look better that way!

There are some "new" things I think are Ipods...for me this is a marvel..a breakthrough. I can buy my music on line and load it into my ipod. I don't have to mess with cds or tapes...I buy one piece of hardware and the music is all bits and bytes. It doesn't fill up landfills when I'm done with doesn't require the mining of petroleum or the pollution of producing the plastics. Its an ingenious thing. AND...I can listen to educational things - books on tape, sermons, and lectures in the form of podcasts. Absolutely brilliant technology, this I-pod. To me...its progress.

THe surround sound system...not so much.

Now, when I see a $600 flat screened tv, I think about money for Jay's college, groceries, or paying an extra payment on the car. I think about my two perfectly good TV's taking up space in a landfill somewhere...not able to bio-degrade because of the many manufacturing steps that have gone into making the raw materials so permanent that generations from now, these devices will still be completely intact.

I don't need a flat screen.

Or a surround sound system.

Or anything else like this.

What I need...what would be real time. Isn't it funny that for all our progress, we still have to work so hard...and that we usually are working hard so that we can keep up with the progress????

Seems so backwards to me.

I'd rather just have the time with God, time with Jay, time to create, time to laugh and learn and grow and cherish. These things would enrich my life (and my wallet) and they are far more progressive than spending time in front of a flat screen tv with a surround sound system getting fat, lazy and stupid.

Based on the number of flat screen tv's being sold at Costco, I think mine might e an odd perspective...but its the perspective I remember my parents having...Its the perspective I always thought was silly...Its about the quality of life...not the quantity...and its about quality NOT being about the quantity of things you have...

Now, I have Scott and Jay and a front yard and great neighbors...and I cherish these times and these moments ever so much more than an expensive gadget that will just contribute in some way to my carbon footprint and the mess of landfills and petroleum pollutants.

I've been reading about The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating Brilliant approach to removing excess in our lives and attempting to get in touch with who we are and were we really live - specifically when it comes to food. It struck a chord with me. Truely, it wouldn't be a hard thing to do here in North Carolina...nor in Southern California where I used to live. But it WOULD be difficult if you lived in, say...Phoenix or Las Vegas. Still the approach is what I find important.

Examining how much we really need to to have and how much waste goes into us having the things we have. Making different choices about the stuff we choose to include in our lives. Its about being purposeful and thoughtful as a consumer. Perhaps we spend so much of our lives struggling with emotional junk becuase we willingly inlude so much unnecessary physical junk in our lives every second of every day.

I've really been focusing on the quality of my life...on the way that I spend my precious resouces...on having a meaningful life...and a full life...not a full-of-meaningless-stuff life...

I think that change is not always progress...and if progress is only measured in dollars and cents, measured in what you have in your living room instead of what you have in your heart and mind, that we miss the point of life entirely. Success is not about how much you have to spend on your funeral...its about how you spend your life...

Here is my challenge...what can you do without that is just polluting your life? As hard as it may be...get rid of it.

Just toss it out and move on...

Happy pondering, everyone...

Have a meaningful, purposeful, soulful, deliberate weekend, everyone!


Gina said...

I touched on this crazy consummerism in my post. You took it quite a few levels deeper. Thank you. I must read that book. I've heard many good things about it. I'm struggling with some of the very same things. You've encouraged me to reign in my raging desire for things. I have found that recently I truly have found some temporary high in purchasing. Luckily we're debt free but boy could I change that ever so quickly. Time indeed. Oh how precious it is.

Samantha said...

I've been waiting for that book to make it into our library's system so I can request it. Definitely a must read.

And I'm totally with you on the consumer mania. We had a pastor visit us for a month from Cuba - who had never seen a strawberry, could count on one hand how many times he'd eaten red meat, and cried the first time he went to Target. He couldn't understand why - why so much stuff? He thought mini-storage was hilarious. Not only do we Americans have houses full of stuff, we have to rent more space to store our extra stuff. Really helped put a few things in perspective for me.