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Last Sunday I got exceedingly mad at myself, and disturbed, and disappointed with who I have become.
When this emotional turbulence happened, I was watching 60 Minutes. I will go ahead and blame this show for my screwed up Sunday night. The show featured a story about homeless families living out of their cars. The adults shared their experience. But most importantly, the homeless children were interviewed. That was the part that really got to me.
For some reason the adults talking about their lives on the streets (and believe me, it was heartbreaking) did not have a huge impact on me. What got me was their children. Those children, who live their lives in the parent’s cars, eating food from cans because they don’t have a refrigerator, a kitchen or even a table to sit down for dinner, those children, made me ashamed of myself.
The homeless kids (who still attend schools in spite of their living conditions!) spoke about their families, about being together and protecting each other while sleeping at night in cars, on the streets. They talked about what it was like to live their lives in cars. They shared their dreams to have a roof over their head, a real house roof.
I sat in front of the TV, frozen. Suddenly, very clearly, I saw myself as someone who lives her life to make money in order to spend, buy, possess. I used the pathetic excuse of not having access for the first 26 years of my life to all the goods and luxuries that the capitalist world had to offer. I gave myself this excuse so that I could go on my uncontrollable shopping binges and indulge in spending.
Was this endless consumption my only purpose of coming to the United States? Didn’t I have a plan to apply my potential to all the opportunities this country had to offer? Of course, I did!
But, somehow, while applying my potential to the opportunities that came along, I stumbled upon a consumerist path and stayed there, desperately clawing at it, afraid to let it go.
I became a bleak materialistic person who solved her problems with shopping. I had a stressful day at work, I went shopping. I felt vulnerable, I was heading to the mall. I wanted to entertain myself, I drove to a local boutique.
In some unexplainable way, those homeless kids managed to show me what no one else could. That night, in front of the TV, I admitted that
I would not be content anymore by equating my deliberate ignorance of my spending problem with its non-existence.
I don’t think I have my life priorities straight in my head. They are all clouded with visions of shoes and bags.
I am a slave to consumption, my shopping addiction and my spending habits. Can I break out of all of this? I don’t know.
Am I going to try? Hell, yes I am!