Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Trinkets: The Rant

Vacation is over, at least for the time being. Four days are not really long enough to forget the stresses of daily life, but better than nothing. If you go to a tourist spot, though, four days are surely sufficient to contemplate how many ways people have to sell you what you don't want. From billboards to promises of free money if you will just come see a timeshare, one is constantly enticed by glittering junk.

What is behind the urge to acquire still more things? Is it the desire to display our wealth by having more toys than our friends? Will having more stuff make us feel more secure? Yes, T-shirts with cute sayings may catch our eye, but would we really wear them enough to justify their purchase? (And will the messages written across our chests be so embarrassing that we won't wear them outside our houses?) Our refrigerators can only sport just so many magnets, and our present keychains are working fine, thank you. We'd like to think that we can join the jet-setters who own more than one house, but the house we have takes up most of our time and a goodly portion of our salary. We certainly don't need more, and much of the time we don't even want it after we have it.

This tendency to accumulate material possessions has led to a veritable explosion of storage businesses, so we can stash what we have bought but cannot accommodate in our houses. After 50+ years of living, I have come to the realization that unused items create clutter--both in our houses and in our minds. I am no longer feeling guilty about not supporting the American economy if I don't buy something. I've resolved only to buy things I like and will use. Maybe then my kids won't have to sort through the detritus of stuff I've left behind to find the meaningful.

Here's to letting go of the trivial--or not buying it in the first place.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Notes from a Vacation

It's good to take vacations. Getting away from one's normal routine tends to put daily life into some sort of perspective, especially when you look out your window at mountains that have been here for thousands, if not millions, of years. Spring springing helps, too. So a few questions:
  1. Why does everyone in a tourist town feel the need to eat at the same time? It's as though some celestial alarm clock went off and signaled the Universal Hunger Alarm.
  2. Is there some universal company that controls all businesses in all tourist spots? You may find really neat handcrafted whats-its, and then find "Made in China" stamped on the bottom. And just down the street you can find many more just like them.
  3. Why do ladies of a certain age in resort towns show an affinity for embroidered flashy clothing? When I reach the age of having to wear gold shoes and embroidered sweaters and sequined tops, all at the same time, please send me to my reserved room in Dr. Happy's Home for the Pleasantly Demented.
  4. Why, when people are on vacation, do they find an uncontrollable urge to play miniature golf and drive go-karts?
  5. Does anyone really wear the soft-porn T-shirts so easily found in tourist traps?
  6. Why does the phrase "country gravy" set mouths watering? Would "city gravy" be as tantalizing?

I love vacations. The best ones end with us wishing they would last for just one more day.