The Great Belt Burning of 2014



I was in a mall today. This is usually significant because I rarely go to malls and the whole shopping experience just exhausts me. Today was different because I went to a mall to go to a movie and so there was no annoying anxiety over that whole shopping thing.

I arrived early and so was using the time to walk around away from the cold. It started out pleasant and comforting to not walk like a penguin on the ice or hunching my shoulders from the cold.

Then I started to walk by the carts lining the middle of the concourse. Carts selling calendars and phones and prints and all manner of product. I was dealing with the visual cacophony fairly well. But then I came across the belt cart. A staggering array of pastel and primary colored belts. Hundreds, maybe even a thousand belts surrounding and billowing from this cart.

I don’t know if they were fashionable. I don’t know if they were quality. I just know there were lots of them. It seemed like enough for every tenth person in the town to be able to own one. It reminded me of the booths at state fairs lining the midway filled with stuffed animals. An endless pool of stuffed animals. Though to be far you had to earn the stuffed animals whereas you could just buy the belts.

Then my mind began to spin and my ability to contemplate the need for so many brightly colored belts suffered a system failure. I could not process it.

What if I just put a match to all these belts? Would anyone really miss them? What if I put a match to all the carts? (Don’t worry, I would make sure no one was hurt in the burning of these carts.)

I know it seems rather radical and I must admit I have may have a bias against belts because I refuse to wear one that may be fueling this desire. But it’s really not a hatred of belts.

It’s about asking when does one really have enough? How much stuff does one need? And why does one need so much stuff?

It’s as if we confuse acquiring of stuff with living, with meaning. We’ve created a habit loop of Buy-Reward. I understand the need for reward, for positive energy for the brain, for the psyche. But is this really the one you want?

It takes money, which of course is not an issue for some but can be a burden for others. Though of course not spending money doesn’t solve anything just as spending it doesn’t cause all evils. But it’s not really about money anyway.

It’s about time and emotional energy. You have to manage all this stuff, and store it and worry about it. Think about that burden. The total emotional cost of ownership is out of whack, that brief reward from the purchase is quickly negated and chewed up over the course of managing an item, storing it, moving it, cleaning it, thinking about it. Multiply that times all the items you have acquired. That’s a lot of burden.

I know, I know. Some of you need belts. But how many belts do you need? Really. Free your minds form the burdens of ownership by changing your habit-reward system. Don’t be the belt.

Cinch that belt up. Take inventory of your stuff. Reduce. Be unburdened.


About joegergen

To evoke a smile. That's all. Author of "Methane Wars: A Fable" and "Lear's Fool" as well as various poems and some these painting things as well.
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