The Illusion of Choice

 

 

 

 

 

 

We live in interesting times with one foot dragging behind mired in the memory of a gilded past and the other poised to go off the edge into a dark unknown abyss. It’s preferable to focus on the comfortable illusion of sameness, ignoring the obvious signs of change especially if the change is not so good.

Our planet is in trouble and so is our spirit and our collective soul.  In a world with a swelling population and dwindling resources it’s easy to zone out on the meaningless and glaze over that gnawing feeling with yet another distraction and there ate plenty distractions to keep us occupied.

 

work-buyconsumedie-consumerism
“All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume.” ― Noam Chomsky

We are bombarded with messages everyday, bits of information, much of it totally useless that invade our minds on constant basis. Most of us are used to this constant stream of stimuli. Some of us thrive on it, and depend on it.

These messages are unimportant useless fluff that disguise themselves are dire. They cover up what is truly important. They lull us into complacency, we are not required to think, they do that for us.

They provide our heroes. the dreams and the ideals that we as responsible consumers should aspire to.They also tell us who to point the finger at and there are endless sources of blame to go around.

They give us our scapegoats. They prey upon our fears which they too have cleverly crafted.

 

Credit: Banksy
Art by Banksy

We are managed and manipulated by a system that has become rigged against most of us to benefit a privileged very few. Our lovely planet that belongs to all of us is becoming more and more privatized and profitized used to feed an bulging worldwide economy with a hearty appetite that never stops being hungry.

We are told we must have endless war. That we are not safe.

We are told that the worthiness of a human life is measured by one’s assets. We are told a lot of things.

They distract us. They divide us. We are told what and who to fear. They are very good at this because they have been doing it for so long.  They provide the illusion of choice.

 

vote-politics-sheep-vote-blue-red

Treated like children we are presented with limited choices, usually two. This team or that team?  Coke or Pepsi? Red or Blue? Republican or Democrat? Left wing or Right?  When in reality it’s the same damn bird.  They who control what we see and and hear they would let us believe these are the only choices but they are not, far from it.  We do have real choice and we can make the world a better place for us all.

There are forces that would polarizes us. They divide us with their illusion of choice.

They want to keep us from finding common ground. Pitting one side against another, distracting us from our common enemy. Because as drastic as that sounds there is an enemy and it those who pull the crooked strings, those in the shadows, the ones that have the game rigged.

 

 

art-street-graffiti-puppet-corporate-control

 

They manipulate everything they can. There is no pie they haven’t already eaten most of and they are still very hungry.  We are being forced to share what little is left. They distract us with this and that. They divide us. And they are very good at it.

Most of us exist on the bottom of a great pyramid where those very few on the top live on the backs of those on the ever widening bottom. The very top depends on this arrangement and pretty much always has, we the people are waking up to that illusion of choice; that our much touted and much admired democracy is an outright and blatant lie and has been for a long time.

 

pyramid-dollar

 

 

 

Art by Banksy
Art by Banksy

 

consumerism
“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.” ― Philip Slater

 

Together we are powerful.  A force to be reckoned with. And we can remake the world into what we want it to be. We can heal our planet and ourselves. We can take back what rightfully belongs to ourselves and future generations.  We can refuse to play, to go along with the idiocy of the day.

We need to focus on what we agree with not what do not, this separates us. We need each other; divided we fall but united we stand strong.

charles-activism-interview_another-world-quote
“We can change the world with every thought we have and every word we speak.” –Alberto Villoldo

 

We can get back to basics. Turn off the damn TV. Go outside. Go for a walk and leave your car behind.  Talk to your neighbors. Grow some tomatoes.  Don’t buy anything you don’t really need. Open your mind. Open your heart. Question what you are being told. Speak up and speak up for others who cannot.

Topple their false idols and render their marketplace a ghost town.

How did this become our God?
How did this become our God?

 

Perhaps we can break out of the illusion and make our own choices. I do think we do have a choice and despite what one may hear about rigged elections and the like, I know for a fact that money talks. Don’t buy what you are being sold. Question what you are being told. Listen to what your inner voice tells you.

Encourage free thought. Listen to those who may have a different view that you. Seldom if ever is one side 100% right or 100% wrong for that matter. Listen to those who may be supporting a different presidential candidate than you. Many of us have friends and family members who fit that category and it is easy to be confused at their choice or their lack of choice at all but there can be found nuggets of universal truths and wisdom everywhere and in everyone, seek that out. Let us not be separated from each other at a time when we need each other the most. In reality we are all on the same side. No matter who is elected to any public anywhere. It is we the people who matter and it we the people can make a difference.

 

~NLM

love-peace-art-street-graffiti“Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls. Books, not weapons. Morality, not corruption. Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance. Stability, not fear and terror. Peace, not chaos. Love, not hate. Convergence, not segregation. Tolerance, not discrimination. Fairness, not hypocrisy. Substance, not superficiality. Character, not immaturity. Transparency, not secrecy. Justice, not lawlessness. Environmental improvement and preservation, not destruction. Truth, not lies.”

Suzy Kassem

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Blacky Blackiness: Adventures in retail on the craziest shopping day of the year.

 

 

spratt_rockwell_full thanksgivingI sit here tap tapping on my happy laptop. Stopping occasionally to take a sip of nice strong coffee and to gaze out the window. The house is toasty warm and filled with the comforting and enticing aroma of roasting turkey and dressing and yummy apple pie.

I am content. The house is quiet for the moment, only the faint sounds of traffic outside and the occasion caw from a crow.  I am glad to be able to take advantage of this lull before “the storm”

I admit I’m a tad bit apprehensive, anyone would be in my shoes. But mostly I am excited. Not the “oh I get to go to Disneyland” kind of excited or the “ooooh I have a dove bar” sort but more of the type you get when you are about to go on a trip to someplace exotic and far away, like the Twilight Zone or Never Never Land.

My newest foray into retail has given me the opportunity to experience my first Black Friday starting Thursday evening. Instead of being a crazed shopper I will be a crazed worker; manning a cash register with a scanner and smile at the ready.  

I know what you are thinking: Does she have adequate footwear?  I’m not sure on that, but regardless I am ready. Ready to face the stampede of maniac shoppers and gawkers of all shapes and sizes. I liken this to going into battle. It will be rough. It will test me and stretch me in ways I’ve never before experienced and by the time my shift is over and it’s time to leave I will have left stronger and wiser than when I entered.

If I survive….

stampede black friday
“OMG!!!” Cashmere-like sweaters for $1.99!

This night will separate the big girls from the little ones, the cats from the kittens and the serious hardcore bargain hunters from the mildly interested window watchers.

Have no doubt my comrades will be able to count on me to lead the charge!  I am not afraid! I will take that hill (whatever the hell that means) and I will charge up it!  Come on lads and ladies and follow me!

cat weird odd strange

I expect to get a battlefield promotion on this one. The whole store will throw me a parade in which I will be the grand marshal and the president of the company will fly down from headquarters and present me with a medal for bravery and a coupon good for half off any designer fragrance.  The mayor will attend and give me the key to the city and all kinds of cool junk too.

 

star-jump-331284560366vhlk

Everyone will cheer and I will be a hero. Tales of my deeds will be told for a long time, days at least. In many of the departments: Menswear, shoes maybe even intimate apparel.  Oo la-la…

It is destiny my friends, there is nothing I can do to change it. You can say you knew me when.  (wink-wink)

stirlingblackwhip vintage woman

 

 It is like I have been preparing for this my whole life…

I will say now that I have never ever attended a Black Friday or Thursday shopping holiday free-for-all mob festival. I tend to seek peace and quiet and generally shun over-the-top consumerist events with large crowds of people.   It is ironic my first exposure will be as a worker not shopper.  I am however well versed in patience and stamina. I have been a mom for almost 20 years, this gives me special powers as any mother worth her salt can attest to.   I am unflappable and unstoppable. I have a will of iron with a peaceful core as soft as a feather bed but with nerves of steel.

store-crowd-black-friday-blur-615cs112212

 H-E-L-P!!!

Who am I kidding?

I have all the exits planned out and marked in my head. I know of a supply closet I can hide in.  I’m no fool. I am bringing a thermos of coffee, ummmm Colombian…and a you guessed it, a turkey sandwich.. I will be bringing my “serenity now!” kit complete with a book of nature poetry , sandalwood incense and a portable miniature babbling brook.

Serenity now!!!
Serenity now!!!

Ha-ha…really, I don’t mind working on Black Friday and Thursday too.  There are advantages to the whole thing.  It’s an adventure. I’m a writer and I need to do that sort of thing, seldom does adventure come to me. I will have lots to write about after this. Expect the book, then soon after the screenplay.

Instead of spending money I don’t have I will be making money I can spend later on frivolities like food and fun stuff like mortgage payments and utility bills.  Most importantly this gives me the excuse to have Thanksgiving dinner a day early with my wonderful family in our warm home with turkey and stuffing and pie and everything else. We will all be together spending a glorious and very meaningful day creating new memories and savoring the old ones. We will be thankful for all of this and what does it matter what the calendar says?

vintage-thanksgiving-11

Yummy…yum, yum I’m starving...

So if I see you out there among the throng of shoppers wave a hello across the crowd, maybe we can exchange wisecracks or share a supply closet during a stampede. Just be sure to bring your visa card or at least a warm up on that coffee and if I don’t see you before the holiday…

Have a wonderful,  meaningful and blessed Thanksgiving.

Nancy

vintage thanksgiving kids turkey yum

 

 

Alice’s Restaurant – Original 1967 Recording ( A Thanksgiving tradition in certain circles)

 

The Worst Black Friday Disasters

The Perfect Christmas? Does it exist and how do I get one?

“We used to build civilizations. Now we build shopping malls.”
 
― Bill Bryson
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I have been away for a bit, experiencing perhaps a mild case of blogger’s flu. I have been rather neglectful and I have been spending more time in what has been described by some as the “real world”.   The holidays approach like a glittery freight train. I am standing on the tracks with empty shopping bags.
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What do you mean you haven’t started Christmas shopping you foolish woman?”
Santa scolds in a mocking voice before it runs me over…
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christmas santa train
I am standing in what would be described as your typical American Mall during the holiday rush. Two days to go in fact!  The place is abuzz with the collective energy of hundreds of shoppers and various others who for various reasons of their own have decided to visit this shiny tribute to consumerism on this gloriously cold and frosty day in late December.
I relish the excitement and I enjoy the people who also enjoy this type of activity.  We are a motivated lot; we of the last-minute. Our ranks include all walks of life, who for some reason, whether by uncontrollable circumstance, ingrained strains of  procrastination or perhaps just by design have seen fit to shop during these last days before “The Big Day”.
I try not to get hung up in all the stress and the drama of the season. As we file past the endless streams of people I can hear snippets of conversation, much of it is stress-filled and contains the phrase; two days left.
A  lot of expectations are put onto this holiday and it is an emotional and very stressful time of the year. I try to have a good time wherever I go and not to let things get to me.  This is easier said than done and it has taken me many years to cultivate this attitude. I remind myself that December 25th is just  a day and will pass soon enough, what really matters  is the everyday. Today, December 23rd is important as well. It is important to me that I am able to be out here with my beautiful daughter wandering around in all this mayhem, talking, laughing, eating surprisingly good Japanese food and having a wonderful time of it.
All in all, December 25th shows up regardless of whether we are ready for it or not…somehow every year it all works out.  Nothing is ever perfect. This day is no exception and in no way should it be.
We should NOT get everything we want
christmas bow Lexus car

We are bombarded with messages at this time of year. Images of glittery perfection. The silver Lexus in the driveway with the giant red bow. The beautiful and well-behaved children delighting in getting everything they want. The savvy shopanista hunting down one-of-a-kind bargains, playing the perfect hostenista, finding it all and having it all…

I think the holiday season affects us more than all the others combined and I think we inject needless stress into it. Society and the media set impossibly high expectations that no real person can attain. No matter how hard we try we cannot have “the perfect holiday” because it does not exist.
No moment should be perfect. I mean, where do we go from perfect?
Do it now
Do it now
Many say this day has become too commercialized. This is a understatement.
 
Many say we have forgotten the true meaning of the day…this too is an understatement.
andy 546px-Grandpas_visit_Christmas_morning
I don’t really care if someone wishes me a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays. I am just glad to be acknowledged in such a positive manner. Whatever you call the day, however you want to celebrate it matters not to me. If anything can be gleaned or gained from all this ado, it is the perfect excuse to get together with those we love. Hopefully to break bread and to partake of each others company. This day is a day for peace, love, understanding, tolerance and compassion. It is not a day to tell anyone how to think or feel or how to celebrate. This I believe.
And I am grateful for what I have, for my friends and family. I am grateful to be able to live in one of the greatest countries in the world. I am grateful to have my health and the free will to follow my dreams.
OUR LOVELY HOME
OUR LOVELY HOME
We all live together on this amazing planet, it is our home. To embrace each other is the true meaning of this day. We are all brothers and sisters,  today, and everyday. We all sit together…and there is room at the table for us all; Jesus, Santa, you and I and Seven Billion others.

 If I could receive any gift this holiday it would be for us all, every single one of us to realize that

 We belong to each other.

 

a-christmas-gift in public domain
Thank you my friends for showing up and reading what I write and leaving such intelligent and thoughtful comments. I’d be all alone out here if it wasn’t for you. My very best wishes to you and yours. 

Happy Christmas from me to YOU!

~Nancy

peace-love-joy christmas

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Bing Crosby – Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Christmas Song)
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The Culture of Want

Credit: Public Domain
Gold is Yummy! Credit: Public Domain

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy”.

~Eric Hoffer

We are taught by this culture to want and want it now and no matter what we get, we are never satisfied. Our economy is built on our rampant consumption of everything; this intense overpowering feeling to want it all, to have it all.

And all this having and wanting leads to high expectations that for most of us are never fulfilled. It’s as if our society sets us up for disappointment.

consumerism Gianni-Versace-home-3
“Home” Sweet “Home” Credit Public Domain

There are certain ideals set before us, by media, by government, by our peers and by society in general. We are expected to live up to these impossibly high and unrealistic standards. If we do not we are deemed a failure. I think much of these expectations are top-heavy and backward. Much emphasis is placed on high status careers and wealth.  Wealth that is quickly spent on expensive items as fancy cars, houses that are much too large, expensive and exotic vacations and trendy gadgets. I marvel at the lines people are willing to wait in to pay exorbitantly high prices just to get themselves  the newest “I” somethings. We are expected not only to keep up with the “Joneses” but to outdo the “Joneses” at every twist and turn and then rub their noses in it. People are expected to lead these “full” lives with as many over the top experiences one can muster. We are also expected to remain forever and impossibly young in this culture while the natural process of aging is frowned upon and is seen a detriment.

Shallow untalented celebrities are held up as an ideal to aspire to. The news of their lives are featured as the top stories of the day. We place these people on high pedestals and then watch with relish as they crash and burn all in front of the unblinking eye of the media.

Kim Kardashian
Credit: Public Domain… Kim Kardashian, What is she famous for? Someone please tell me, I really don’t know…

Our young people have no other role models nothing to aspire to except more of this flashy shallowness. The family unit is deteriorating and our common sense of home and well-being is being put through the shredder. It is no wonder that many are depressed and suffer from mental illnesses and addictions.

As a society we are searching for something. A something we know we lack and we pretend we haven’t a clue about what or where it is. We are losing ourselves and what makes us great.

Those ideas and ideals, those which helped us become who we were in a golden age that now seems so distant. Those ideals of family and hard work and patience. Of perseverance, wisdom and respect. The importance of generosity and understanding, kindness and love. These are the ideals we should aspire to. These are the values that are truly valuable.

I don’t have to tell anyone this. We all know this. In the back of our minds, in our hearts and souls, I just think we need to be reminded once in a while…

consumerism1
Credit: Public Domain

…and while I stand on this soapbox, shouting to whoever will hear me…I realise that  I am for the most part, preaching to the converted. We are an enlightened bunch who swim in the deepest end of the pool, we in this community of bloggers…but I bet we know others who may not swim in such deep waters. It is up to us to inspire those who may need a little inspiring and a bit of encouragement now and then. Perhaps lead by example and do some preaching ourselves.

We are a part of a society at large and although we may not participate fully in this consumermania and celebrity obsession we do have an influence over those who do.

It is up to those who are enlightened to help light the way for the rest of us.

Strawberryindigo.

Credit: Pixabay
Credit: Pixabay

“It isn’t by getting out of the world that we become enlightened, but by getting into the world…by getting so tuned in that we can ride the waves of our existence and never get tossed because we become the waves.” 
~Ken Kesey

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