I had a weird experience that involved a visit to the town’s newly refurbished and extended shopping centre (mall). It was very emotional and I got quite worked up. Let me tell you about it.
Picture this. Saturday morning, feeling quite fresh, and excited about the weekend. This particular Saturday was the date for the annual local festival, so I knew that most people in town would be down watching the parade and visiting carnival rides.
I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to visit the new shopping centre without wall-to-wall people. In a moment of madness, I suggested to Kim that we visit, more out of curiosity than anything else. I think my proposal shocked her a little as it was totally out of character for me. With Ben in tow, we headed off.
After a struggle to find a parking spot, which in itself was not a good sign, I was pleasantly surprised to find an abundance of bike racks next to the entrance (but no bikes). Nice! However, it was all went downhill from there.
Walking through the southern entrance, a wave of what I can only describe as dread overcame me. I can’t explain it, but it felt terrible. I hadn’t visited a shopping centre is such a long time, I had forgotten about our consumer culture and the way of the dollar.
The shopping centre was slickly fitted out, aesthetically pleasing to the eye, snaking like a river begging you to follow the line of shops to the very end. It stunk of fresh paint, glue, and plastic, emitting gosh only knows what in the form of toxic volatile organic compounds. After I mentioned it Kim could smell it too.
It was a consumer’s paradise! Wall to wall shops full of tat and stuff that no one really needs, only existing to serve and fulfil every consumer’s wanton desire. All stuff available on shiny credit cards, plunging the average Joe and Jolene into eternal debt, trashing the planet with every purchase. Harsh, but that is what I thought at the time.
As we walked along, I started to feel angry, tense, and grumpy. You don’t want to see me when I have my grumpy head on. Kim noticed this straight away and told me to settle down. It upset her that I felt this way, as she rarely takes the time to visit shopping centres, but she totally understood why I was so emotional. We both knew that blatant consumerism is one of the drivers of climate change, but there it was, laid out in front of us like a naked flasher in the park.
Anyway, we walked the entire length of the mall, looking at this and that, with me feeling more and more anxious. My only moment of reprieve was the home brew and preserving section in a large department store, which at best, was a place I felt somewhat comfortable. I bought a can of brewing extract for my next home brew and then tried my best to follow Kim around with my happy face on, all the while dreading this vision of hell that I was engulfed in.
Call me unusual. Call me mad, but I feel more at home at a farmers market or craft fair than I am around all this hyper-consumerism. And the christmas decorations are even not out yet when they roll out consumerism on steroids.
Finally we made it to the exit, where I breathed a long sigh of relief. I was not in a good place, overheated, sweaty, and had a thumping headache. What I desperately needed was a heavy dose of normality and reality.
So what is a keen food gardener to do? My solution was to pop into the garden centre across the road and buy some heirloom vegetable seedlings! This calmed me down a little, however the effect lingered on. When I got home I had to have a little lie down and nap for a couple of hours to sooth the headache.
When I arose, I headed straight for the front yard. There is nothing so grounding as a bit of honest physical labour in the veggie patch, getting your hands dirty pulling weeds and mulching plants. Ahh, I felt much better. The shops were, thankfully, a distant memory.
When will this hyper-consumerism ever end? In my lifetime, or will it just get worse until we kill the very ecosystem we depend upon for life? I don’t know the answers, but I for one am going to avoid it like the black plague, having reduced my consumption of stuff long ago. I hope we wake up to ourselves. And, of course, thank the maker for gardens.
So, what do you think of my emotional reaction to this consumeristic overload? Am I certifiable, or did I have just cause to get emotionally upset? Have you had a similar experience?