Monday, November 21, 2011

No mixed message here

We Americans suffer from a shared delusion that more is always better. I have clients, for instance, who have to wear special inserts in their shoes, braces around their knees, etc. so they can quench their addiction to running. Anytime I suggest they try some other kind of exercise, their eyes get wide and they look a little panicked. Then they say something like, "But I'm only running 10 miles three times a week! I've cut back." Wow. Exercise is good for everyone, but when your feet and knees are falling to pieces, it's clear you're running too much, yes?

Our cars are too big, our homes, too, though we fill up even the biggest houses with unbelievable amounts of stuff - not all of us, but many. Acquiring more and more is part of the American lifestyle. More shoes and clothing, more kitchen gadgets, more pets, more kids, more money. It is our national personality to be jovial and expansive. That point of view - that more is better - seeps into every corner of the American mind.

So it seems rather hilarious that we celebrate Thanksgiving, a ritual of abundance. Like we need more abundance - for heaven's sake.

A lot of well meaning healers would now launch into a big spiel about moderation and good sense on Thanksgiving. Why not avoid the carbs maybe or make sure you get out for a brisk walk after dinner? It's almost cruel to suggest we shouldn't really, whole-heartedly, celebrate the feast, ridiculous to suppose we should hold back and think about calories. Holy cow, I would never suggest such a thing! No way I want to rain on your parade.

You don't have to be a Viking on Thursday, showing your prowess at eating and drinking, but by all means, feast. Enjoy. Laugh. Wear your sweats so you'll be comfortable. Thanksgiving is our national prosperity ritual. Don't be stingy - enjoy!

We are so lucky to have far more than we need. I am thankful for that. Cheers!


jeanette from everton terrace said...

We are indeed so very lucky. You've got me thinking about my house. We starting building this house 7 years ago, when M left for college. We built a much bigger house than the one we had for 3 of us but it has about 1/4 of the stuff in it. Once we got into the big space we just wanted less and less stuff. I had WAY too much before. I still do.
Have a joyful and laughter filled Thanksgiving friend (well I actually wish that for your whole life but especially on Thursday) :)

ellen abbott said...

I adopted 'less is more' many many years ago as my personal philosophy. Crazy making wanting a lot on an artist's income. It has served me well but even so I have a lot of stuff. When we moved out here I shed some stuff. If I ever move again I will shed more stuff.

Reya Mellicker said...

Even I have a lot of stuff compared to most of the people in the world.

I love big empty rooms so much, Jeanette. In Portland I rented a two bedroom apartment - one bedroom was my "art gallery" - no furniture, just paintings on the walls and a carpet on the floor. Ahhhh!!!

Ellen most of your stuff is practical - tools, art supplies, gardening stuff. You definitely are not one of the hoarders!

Rose said...

I recently visited a podiatrist and now have some little shoe inserts. I think my podiatrist is unusual though - he has given me foot strengthening exercises so I won't need the inserts soon. He told me a lot about how we do not run naturally and we actually place tremendous strain on our bodies and part of the reason we run badly is the shoes we wear - the makers decided we could run faster if we had a longer straighter legged stride with our heels triking first. If you watch African bare foot runners though their whole foot hits about the same time and there is less jarring and more use of the glut muscles rather than depending on the joints to take the strain.... He also showed me some bits from this video...

Amy said...

This really struck a chord for me Reya. I remember reading an article on how money doesn't make you happier after a certain point. The details are vague now, but the carry home message was that once you can meet your basic needs, more money doesn't add happiness. While I am avoiding the Thanksgiving feast this year, I'll pull a shift at the hospital to let someone enjoy a day of celebration with their family. Less is more for me this year!

Reya Mellicker said...

Rose thanks for this info. Very cool.

Amy, money never makes anyone happy. It makes people feel secure, safe, also sometimes powerful or important, but happy? Not ever. Too much money is actually a burden. I could write a whole post about that.

Nice to "see" you here.