No more sleepwalking. Things are changing.

Postcard 7

My resolution of not buying anything new has been influencing my thoughts and feelings since the beginning of this year in ways that I didn’t expect.

The initial impressions were those of excitement and motivation. I was filled with nice and heart-warming sensations. I felt liberated and appreciated the beauty and luxury around. The first weeks of not buying gave me almost instantaneously a sense of pride and accomplishment to the point that I was almost congratulating myself on how undisturbed my routines and mindset were to that point. I’ve been on the top of the world and then things started changing this week… I’ve started changing this week…

I’ve been examining the contents of our house and I’ve been discovering things… items that I have bought at various stages of my life… things that I have bought for myself and my son at a whim… objects that I found absolutely necessary at the time of purchase and forgotten about them a while later… As I was going through all these things I was getting more and more uncomfortable… The items that I was holding were not really what I had bought… I had been buying something else… I had been buying the routes to and symbols of security and comfort… appreciation and acceptance… I had been shopping for elegance, intelligence, affection, ambitions and confidence… I had been buying resilience… character… adventure… health. I had been buying those things not realising that none of them was in fact sold. And I was just an average consumer. Aware, informed and with good knowledge of advertising strategies and marketing, I have still sleepwalked into this trap… naïvely thinking that by purchasing something I have found a way forward to whatever plan, aspiration or ache I had at the time.

I don’t want to sleepwalk anymore. I don’t want to consume dreams. I want to work to make them come true. I don’t want to consume feelings. I want to express them. I don’t want to consume plans. I want to see them through. I don’t want to consume character traits. I want to develop them.

I had been trying to satiate the needs that those items were never able to fill on their own… I had been deceiving myself… Now I want to fill those needs without those items because to be frank I am terribly angry… and I would like to blame someone but there is no obvious scapegoat so I am just left with this massive and unpleasant feeling of shame and embarrassment… about the way I led my life… about how I replaced the real, raw and genuine sensitivities with stuff.

I want to look after this girl now and her weaknesses and vulnerabilities… and let her own herself… I will not let her exchange dreams for goods. They are too precious to be sold.

See also: How does a life without a luxury feel?


21 thoughts on “No more sleepwalking. Things are changing.

  1. I get all of this except the “shame and embarrassment” bit. Why would you feel this way about coming to a realisation that most people in the western world are completely blind to? To feel embarrassed about getting caught up in a consumerist tidal wave makes no sense. It’s designed to suck you in. However, seeing it for what it is and pulling yourself to higher ground as it were… well, that’s something to be happy about rather than ashamed. Just saying.


  2. I also look at my things, wondering what I was thinking. Bit I do feel like Cedric above, no need to feel ashamed. I feel really good about “waking up” as you say, a bit proud, and eager to get rid of the stuff I don’t need, or want. Eager to start living just the way you said, not sleepwalking.
    I really liked this post. Thank you!


    • There are so many of us… I am very happy about it. It seems to me that we’ve been told that we can only live a (happy) life if we buy x, y and z. Glad that we are no longer believing in this message. It’s nice to regain ownership of oneself.


  3. It’s something that strikes me as very symptomatic of capitalist ideology. You crave a thing, are absolutely sure that this thing will fulfill your desires in some way. And once you attain ownership of such a thing, you feel this immense satisfaction for about an hour. And then it’s gone and you must set your heart and mind on something else, otherwise you give in to this emptiness that threatens to consume you.


  4. “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures” This is often taken out of context but as the the Bard has said, there are consequences to all human actions, and, perhaps he was anticipating and reflecting on your perspicuity over the seductive world of consumer worship and the ringing of tills! I know that was over 400 years ago but… The antidote to the acquisitive society perhaps is just being resolute and not following the herd instict; but one way or another most of us live in a society that is bent on keeping up with the Joneses and if your neighbour parks her new Porshe in her drive, how many of us would go straight out to buy a cinquecento just to show we dont care? Charity is the real antidote and love and understanding for the neighbour’s plight is much more rewarding. Just see how Ghandi set India alight with his then unusual ideas. You are right about thinking of the impact on others of our actions or inaction. Perhaps the others might follow our example and, if they do, that’s how humans evolve as social beings.


  5. I agree with Cedric–you have made a great giant step on the road to enlightenment! Bravo! I wish I was that far along in the journey. You have really look inside with honesty.


  6. Nicely written. It has always been perplexing watching what other people will do to each other in the workplace, to get the money to buy the things that ultimately end up in the garage, closet or trash somewhere. Strange existence. Perhaps the next step is some type of spiritual evolution after the capitalist consumer culture experiment?


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