Earlier this week, I fell down one of the many unsignposted rabbit holes that exist on the Internet, and found myself watching a short video piece about a new Japanese inspired store that sells “high quality” goods of a mind bending variety, all for less than $3.
Three enthusiastic shoppers were given the dubious honour of roadtesting the store, and each of them filled 3 hand baskets full of stuff they felt they absolutely had to have.
Now this piece was intended to be a fun, dare I say, fluff, piece. Retail experts commented on the innovative nature of this kind of shopping experience and how it could potentially put the jiminies up the big discount department stores – a throwing down of the retail gauntlet as it were. Quite possibly, this was considered a successful story for this show.
The problem, as I see it…
I see this kind of shopping through a different lens these days.
None of these women were asked, before their road testing commenced, what things they needed, or what they could comfortably afford.
None of these women were given a moment to consider what they already had and what legitimate gaps existed in their closets, cupboards and drawers. Their dials were set to ‘Shop’ and shop they did.
Wanting and needing
It got me to thinking about the nature of wanting and needing, a topic I have been fascinated by for the last couple of years, since my journey to understand my own overshopping began.
It got me to thinking about how much shopping is done without any real thought, shopping with our brains switched off or on neutral.
Like the over-eater who finds herself standing in front of the refrigerator door, eating chocolate biscuits from the packet, without any memory of how she got there, we as shoppers can find ourselves hauling bags in from the car, without really knowing why we bought those things, or even remembering what we bought (“oh look – what’s this? Yes, that’s right! I remember now I did buy this thing!” — this happened to me on more than one occasion when unloading shopping bags from the car).
We as shoppers can find ourselves filling our trolleys and baskets with things we don’t need or even want, things we would likely never buy if given half the chance to pause and ask what it is that we really want.
You can’t find it in the mall
Often what we want isn’t to be found inside the shopping mall. It just seems like an easy fix to a more complex feeling.
I came across this truism by Jenny Holzer (which I first encountered on Neal Lawson’s site ).
Jenny Holzer calls these works truisms, which is defined as an obvious, self evident truth. Which is what got me scratching my head: Is this true – do we need protecting from what we want?
What do we truly want?
Or is it about digging a little deeper and discovering what it is that we truly want, and finding more long term, life enhancing, spirit lifting ways of meeting those very legitimate needs.
If what I really want is to feel that my life’s work is making a positive difference in the lives of people I care about…. if what I really want is to feel connected to other people, and to feel the fullness of life through experiences that lift my spirits….. if what I really want to be seen and acknowledged for who I really am…. then those are things I don’t need protecting from.
Far from it.
Those are things I need to bring more fully into my life. Those are things I need to bring ‘front and centre’ and devote my precious attention and time to.
Instead of accepting this truism at face value, I wonder what would happen if we took a moment more to consider what it is we truly want, the things that lie beneath the surface, that are literally priceless and can’t be purchased… and decide for ourselves if protection is what we need.
Or whether exploring, discovering and embracing what we truly want is a better response (and here’s 365 ideas to get you started)