As many of you probably know, my amazing, beautiful grandmother was called home on Monday morning. Nanay (Tagalog for “Mom”) as everyone called her, was born on June 2, 1918 and was blessed with 97 years on this earth… 97! Can you even imagine? What a rare gift… to have that much time with your loved ones, to be able to see so many changes in the world, to be a part of so many lives.
She and my grandfather had 12 children; their downline of descendants is so great, no one can keep count anymore. I believe I’m one of 49 grandchildren, there are great grandchildren and even great-great grandchildren. We have a family tree that makes my head spin and my heart laugh. It’s fantastic. Nanay and Tatay left us legacies of love, strength and diligence that I pray will continue on through our own lives. Because of them, we know how to work hard, how to push through adversity, how to love and respect others, how to be creative and resourceful, how to take risks. The list goes on and on. They never had much to their names in terms of material wealth, but what they had to offer our family and the world was worth so much more than anything money could buy.
Since I started this purge project, I’ve been thinking about the value we place on the things that we own – or things we would like to own. In our day to day lives, we tend to forget that everything will turn to dust when it’s all said and done. Nothing we own can be taken with us when we complete our course here on this earth.
So why all the fuss? Why are we so into our things? Why do we let them carry so much weight?
We live in a society that has taught us that what we own is, essentially, who we are.
The guy with the Tesla.
The woman with the Coach bag.
The family with the house in the hills.
The things we own often act as tools to label and categorize people. They reflect status and social class, and consequently put a heck of a lot of pressure on people. Most of us want to look good and feel good and although most people won’t admit it (and some don’t even realize it) we want to impress others. Self-image is a sneaky little monster that has crept into our subconscious. It makes sense. We’re constantly bombarded with advertisements and our brainwaves are slammed with marketing. “You need this! This will make your life better!”
Obviously I’m not against buying things; people need to buy things. I buy things. Consumerism in itself not the issue. The issue is mindless purchasing. Couple that with a subconscious obsession with self-image (or a conscious obsession with it for some of you, *ahem* Kanye), and we find ourselves in the danger zone. Materialism 101.
These days I find myself making a monumental shift in my mentality. On too many occasions, I’ve roamed the aisles of Target and ended up leaving the store with much more than I intended to buy. And don’t get me started with online shopping (Amazon Prime can be blessing and a curse.)
Since I started on this road to minimalism a few months ago, I committed to shop more mindfully. I only buy the things I really need… OR if it’s just something I want for fun, it still needs to be thoroughly justified. Maybe even wait a while before purchasing, so I have time to think about whether it’s worth it or not. It feels a lot like eating healthy. Thinking about every bite, every calorie, is it worth it?
Taking it even further, I want to start thinking beyond the purchases themselves and about the people behind them. Whose lives are being affected? What causes am I supporting? What message am I sending by buying this item? (I’ll blog more on all this later.)
There’s a lot to consider, and I feel like I’ve possibly just rambled senselessly and lost most of you by now. If you’re still with me, congratulations, and thank you. 😛
I just think about Nanay, how amazing she was, and the impact she left on our family… It’s a great reminder of what truly matters.
We are here on earth to live life to the fullest, to love and be loved. It’s never about what you own, but rather what you have to offer. If each of us could make that our primary focus, we would be moving in the right direction as a community… And what a beautiful thing that would be. We’d make our grandparents proud.