I spent the week in New York City with my sisters and now must recant the bulk of what I professed last post. To resist the overwhelming and constant temptations of city life would require a morale of steel, the stoicism of a soldier, an empty wallet and zero credit. It’s no wonder why so many folks in this country are fantastically fat and/or desperately in debt – the pressure to consume is absolutely overwhelming.
Manhattan is a vast bazaar of offerings, each neighborhood serving a different population or persona, with nothing and no one overlooked. There is a zoo of products and services at every price point. The array of restaurants is spectacular, the fashion ubiquitous, the salons irresistible, the bars buzzing. Anything you desire at pretty much any hour. Not even Superwoman could resist against such an all-encompassing force.
And Superwoman has never even played near my orbit. My statement last week to value time over money is shot pretty much instantaneously upon arrival. Every day was like a safari through the endless world of consumable goods – one day as determined as a mouse in a maze for the ideal shoulder bag, the next day a treasure hunter for discounted boots – the perfect pair finally found at half-price, a mere $350.
My youngest sister is a diva in the Manhattan design world, and so she keeps abreast of it all, in knowledge and presentation. They (her and her not-so-handy hubby) are vegans, are mindful of the planet, even experimenting this year with seedlings to be transplanted into a plot in their community garden. It is an applaudable effort and attitude but has hopelessly little hope of success. I think of the constraints already chaining up all their waking hours – the social life, the family obligations, not to mention the extracurricular career commitments and daily commutes. No wonder they watch ridiculous reality shows, what brain or body power could possibly be left for anything else after all that pressure – to produce, to perform, to consume?
Nothing haunts me more than hypocrisy, especially my own, so thankfully I’ve long ago realized I’ve got to be pretty far outside the mainstream to resist the pull of getting repeatedly sucked into it. While ecology might be trendy, its trendiness is antithetical to the movement itself, because consumption cannot be at the core of a sustainable society. New products for vegans and diabetics and celiac sufferers and vitamin water and aroma therapy and elliptical machines – the message is very clear, get healthy, get green, but don’t stop shopping! I know urban homesteading is getting a huge following fast, but wow, I have to really admire those folks, because there is so very much working against them in the city.
Now I’m back to square one on my conservation question: How to create a sustainable society when there is no hope at all we will ever choose time over money in this country. Consumption is as deeply engrained in us as corn. (Hehe, sorry, pun intended.) For some strange reason I heard the same phrase repeated several times last week in the city: Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
I’m home again at last, far out of the way. Thank heavens one long walk in the woods is as easy and reliable as tapping the refresh key.
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