This is one of those posts. The rambling, not-quite-clear-in-my-own-head posts which is being written to see if, by the very act of writing it down, I can clear my head. The kind of post where I’m not yet sure the ideas contained in it are able to be wrapped up into a nice post with a bow. Bear with me.
More than at any time in history, we* have it all. In the not-too-distant-past gadgets and luxury items (eg. mobile phones, 2nd cars and computers) were extras. Things that some people had and most didn’t. These days they are almost a given. In the era of connection, one thing we have become very aware of is what we could consume. Sometimes that leads us to feel that if we don’t have everything then maybe we are missing out. The latest and greatest are visible and available. The marketing of almost every product out there tells us that "we deserve it". And marketing is everywhere.
What scares me most is that my kids have it all. No, they don’t have hundreds of toys or devices or computer games. But in essentials, they are totally sorted. They are healthy, have parents that care about them and actively try to help them become functional satisfied adults, a community that supports them and loves them, a cosy home, great food**, accessible free health care, a calm and safe (if somewhat politically immoral) civil society. They have every chance to lead good lives.
I’m not my kids. I didn’t grow up with it all. I was lucky that I had parents that loved me and generally we had enough. But sometimes we had a little less than we needed, and there was often financial insecurity around where the basics would come from. Even though that is no longer my life, that worry is still part of me and has helped form my relationship to money and things. That understanding of less-than has lead to me being incredibly intrinsically grateful.
And so I get a little worried about my kids sometimes. Worried about what their experience of growing up in today's society is teaching them about having it all.
Our society is focused on the accumulation of things, things that make you happy, things that fix your pain, things that fill the holes and fight loneliness. Things for the sake of things. Buying and accumulating as the solution to every problem Bigger, better, best; where enough is never enough?
So what if?? What if my kids are never satisfied? What if they get caught up in the spiral of desire and longing? So much so that they aren’t able to truly see what they have? What if because they have it all they never realise how extraordinarily lucky and privileged they are?
So here is my hope, my dream for the future of my children if you will. I’m passionately hoping that the life that we live will act as an antidote to the societal pressures they will inevitably face. A life where we try to focus on relationships, community and experiences over things. One where we repair rather than throw out. One where we actively prioritise making things with our hands as opposed to buying ready-made. Not always but as often as we can.
I’m hoping that they remember that the things that were really special in their childhood are the things that we have made them, they have made themselves or they have made each other. That their special things were made. And it was the time, the energy and the thought that went into them that made them so.
I’m hoping that the time they witness us spending making cubbies, bedframes, gardens, roast dinners, sweaters and quilts, will be showing them the value that comes from consciously putting effort, time and materials into the things that we surround ourselves with. And that those things embody all the energy, effort and intention that has gone into making them. And that the crux of it is, that the making itself is what makes life rich, and not the things themselves.
Hand making as the antidote?
All thoughts are welcome – so bring them on.
*I understand that "we" is only a sector of society however it is the one I inhabit, and according to the statistics "we" as a broader Australian society have more than we have ever had at any time in history.
**My personal opinion. My kids often cry when I put dinner in front of them. Make of that what you will :).