Confessions of an Urban Gatherer
Gather, accumulate, collect, amass. The “urban gatherer” saves for the next storm or disaster. Mainly they save for fear of losing what they have. I have found myself living like an “urban gatherer” storing up for whatever future uncertainty might come my way. Rather than giving, recycling and feeling blessed for all that I have, I find myself holding on.
It's not hard to find myself wanting just another snack or a trip to the mall. I feel like I need an energy boost. I should go have an orange. So I go into the kitchen and see a wonderful array of snacks. I could have some chips or cheese and then have the orange. One snack leads to another and pretty soon I've had too much. I go to the mall to just to get out, walk around and hear some music. I get there and decide that I really need that little $12 shirt at the department store. When I get in the store I see so many things that I would like to have and they are all on sale. The $12 top has turned into a $75 dollar purchase. I'm happy!
I get home and have another snack because I'm really hungry after the shopping trip. Now I'm feeling a little too full and hoping I fit into the jeans I bought on sale. I open my closet to put the new clothes away and find there's very little room. Maybe I need a bigger closet. Or better yet a bigger house. I sit down and turn on the TV. I definitely need a bigger house for the large screen TV I need. My kids are getting large screen TV's, so I'm sure we should have one. There's no point in getting the Wii we want if we have a small television. The possibilities are endless. I realize that I need to get up and go put some things away. But where? There's no room. I need to spend some time organizing, but how will I have time? My computer crashed yesterday and it will take me hours or days to set up all of my accounts and programs.
I have to ask myself, "Am I really suffering from having too little?” Maybe I have so much stuff that I am having trouble managing it. I know that I can't let go of things that I don't need anymore because I may need them later. There's talk of inflation going up or possible recession. I'm not sure when I'm going to get that dream job, and my husband is planning to retire in a year. I picked up some old shoes out of my closet this morning and realized that I probably don't need them anymore. I have two other old pair and would like to purchase something newer. I started to throw the shoes away and then wondered what I would do if I needed them later. There was a time when I couldn't afford to buy new shoes when I wanted them. I remember when I ate food I didn't really like because I was actually hungry. I also think back to just being tired and hungry from long days in graduate school when I got home too late to fix dinner.
Now I seem to have plenty of food that I like. I have clothes, a television, two computers, a smart phone and an iPod. Remembering to keep everything charged and in the proper bag or pocket so that I have it with me is a challenge. I ponder over which breakfast bar I like best so I always have a snack with me in case a meeting or class runs late. I try to keep up-to-date on all of my business magazines, news, politics and the state of the economy because it is an important part of being a personal/career coach. But when I look at the hundreds of emails in my inbox, I just want to turn it off. I have self-study courses, ezines, telecourses and advertisements. My office is cluttered with more books and information than I can ever process much less read. Where is this insatiable appetite for stuff and information coming from? What am I trying to fill?
As I think about it, I realize that I get some sense of security from feeling like I'm smart and I know things. If I keep filling my closet then surely I can make an impression at the next networking meeting or presentation. I can feel assured that I won't starve when we have the next disaster because I started keeping a good supply of canned food, a windup flash light and a windup radio on hand after Y2K. But somehow all of these things don't make me feel satisfied. In fact, I can't always find the things that I really need. I know that it is time for me to quit behaving like a hunter-gatherer always storing up for winter. I want to live in the moment and savor all that my life has to offer.
The only way to be truly resilient and prepared for disaster is not through gathering and storing things. There is no security in having stuff that can be swept away in an instant. I am ready now to leave a life of the fear of uncertainty and begin filling my life with meaningful relationships, health and spirituality. Come back and join me in finding a truly fulfilling life. I enjoy hearing your thoughts and feedback.
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