Sunday, October 25, 2009

Have more, be more?

Help me. I've just escaped from Harvey Norman. If the sight of all that hideous furniture in one place doesn't make you puke, the smell of the sales people rubbing their sweaty sausage-fingered hands together at the thought of their commission cheques certainly will. A long line of mild mannered types waited for their turn with the magic credit lady who either would or wouldn't extend them four! years! credit! interest free!

I tried really hard to find something to buy. And it's not as if I don't need anything. The kids are getting new beds; our first ever joint asset - a funky purple vacuum cleaner- is on its last legs, and I'm in the market for any number of miscellaneous feel good purchases - vases, towels, duvet covers and best of all, cushions. Is it possible girls to ever have too many cushions?

As a wild stab, and based on the most recent New Zealand census data, I'm picking that out of the 72,000 people who were at Harvey's at the same time as me, two of them had been to church this morning.

Everyone else probably reads my blog when they feel like being preached at. How pompous am I? "I read intelligent books" - "I never give up" - "I'm a little ray of sunshine bobbing along a sea of gloom". If I were you, I'd hate me.

I left the big box shop feeling pretty glum about our shared belief systems. So many people buying so many things they didn't need with money they didn't have. For what? And where do all the old washing machines go to die?

Having new things is nice. For me, having nice things is new. I've always allowed myself trinkets and classy table mats, but for the longest time we've been 'renting' or 'building' and now that I've got good reason to go nuts in the sales, it feels a bit, well, extravagant.

My sense of self-worth, mercifully, hasn't ever been based on what I've owned or where I've lived. I did cry a lot for a few days when I was 8 because the boys at my new school teased me about our pink house. Dad speed-painted the cladding a gentle off-white and drew me a diagram to explain life. He sketched a wedge of Chesdale cheese and pinpointed a dot at the thin edge of the wedge. "This is you," he said solemnly. 'Right now, the boys teasing you hurts your feelings. You miss your friends in Auckland. You hate living in the country (damn right I did), and you blame Mum and I for bringing you here." Yes, yes I did. "But this," he indicated the ever increasing width of the wedge, "is the rest of your life, where you have so many wonderful things to look forward to and experience. I promise that you will look back on this day of tears as just one tiny dot in the big scheme of the amazing life you will have." And then he lifted his gaze to the window and stared out into the overgrown paddock he'd dragged us to and continued, "as your father I want the very best for you. I predict you will be a lawyer, not a very good one, but nevertheless, you will be a lawyer and you will marry a man called Chris and together you will work very hard and make enough money to buy me a boat." And then because he was the best kind of fundamentalist, he concluded with a hearty "amen".

It's easy to acknowledge that having more won't make us a better person or make us happier but unfortunately even the idea of 'being more' is fraught. There is increasing pressure to self-actualise. Live your best life! Fulfill your destiny! Kick mediocrity into touch! These days I subscribe to a patchwork quilt of philosophies and if I can be so bold as to recommend tips for better living they can be best summarised thus:

1. An excellent day is one where you did less than you did the day before.
2. Give one thing you own away every day for a year. On day 365, your house will still be cluttered but the thought of the misery that your excess junk is causing the people you gave it to will cheer you up. Guilt-free schadenfreude.
3. If someone asks you to do something you don't want to do, just say "I'm sorry, my dear friend Sacha has cancer and so I won't be able to." Offer no further explanation. Hang up. Go to bed. For days.
4. Read intelligent books and watch dumb films.
5. Sing in a group. It's a universal truth that singing with others instantly lifts your spirits and creates unique bonds. It is a religious experience without the condemnation and incense.

Shopping for things you need with money you have is still an undoubted pleasure. Which is why I'm off to Borders to buy 'The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest'.

4 comments:

deb said...

I woke this morning wondering if sacha has updated her blog and yes she has. i just love reading about your life how funny you are sacha you say everything everyone is only thinking and is to guttless to say it. i just love it. how lucky are you to have such a wise and funny dad.when you decide to shop at hardly normal tell them you want staff prices of which you will be entitled to as there is huge markup on furniture and manchester that will stop them from rubbing their grubby little hands together and you should walk out hopefully with a smile on your face.Dont feel like you have fess up to t just yet bout the tooth fairy. about 16 years ago in motueka i bought my daughter emma a dwarf rabbit we called him blinky bill one easter i put a few little easter eggs under his hay and told em in the morning to give him a carrot guess who suddenly became the magic bunny who could lay easter eggs at 19 today we still laugh so much the look on her face was priceless.laugh as much as you can with your children sacha and you will have 2 little rays of sunshine helping you to float in a calming sea of piece.

Libby said...

Hi ya Sacha, have enjoyed reading over your blog -your sense of humour always present which is a delight to read! Your discription in regards to Harvey Norman filled my mind with hysterical images and ones that seemed so true! I had the privilage of purchasing a new washing machine recently as my 25 year old Gentle Annie decided to pass on to a brighter world somewhere - I couldn't beleive how easy it was to get stuff on credit and I did wonder why I had chosen to only pay with cash in the past! I enjoyed my first cup of coffee in 23 years the other day and thought of you as I sat in Coffee Culture (if I have to start I need to start in the best place right?!) a little bewildered at how the coffee world has developed. As I glanced up at the menu board I thought man I don't even know how to pronounce half those words let alone know what is in them! Another exciting adventure to embark on this coffee drinking! Give my love to your mum, I would love to hear from her again and have a catch up! take care and enjoy the moment!
Libby

Anonymous said...

When shopping for kitchen appliances I found a staff person at the House of Harvey in Auckland one of the most informed, non-pushy, polite and genuine sales persons I have ever met in my entire life. In fact he was so good, I even told Sachas new friend Leighton about him. The company heard the talk back natter and got a tape of the happy customers feedback. They played the tape at a staff conference to inspire their sales staff. He was an instant success. He had more informed product knowledge than the combined sales staff of all the home appliance shops throughout NZ (don't ask, I just know this stuff). As a result we purchased high quality brand product (Meile, Bosch..you name it) at prices way below the other stores we visited. The worst were Noel Leemings and Bond and Bond.
Go Harvey Norman Go!!! ...but there's more. Even with huge discounts, we also did the interest free thing and kept money in the bank earning interest, now how's that for an investment plan eh. I guess you just gotta live in South Auckland to appreciate it.

leona said...

Hi
I like reading your blog,its funny and real.I lived out of town these day computer keep me busy its like reading good book but content is as I said reallife.I wish you well and will read when I can.
leona