Adapting to a culture of indulgence

Recently, I have been struggling with the notion of consumption. That is, I have been struggling with the fact that I am a consumer.

You are too, and it is likely (I hope) to have troubled you at some point as well.

The concept stems from a guilt that nags at me each time I feel compelled to collect something, or purchase something. That nagging idea wrestles and quarrels with me each time I spy something desirable.

Desire is so entrenched in the concept of sin that it’s difficult to disassociate the concept of guilt from it. I am by no means a man of faith, but that doesn’t mean I’m completely devoid of moral principles; far from it. My conscience weighs so heavily on my shoulders at times that I feel my knees may buckle.

It isn’t the principle of owning more things than other people that drives me. I don’t want a shiny new car just because other people own shiny new cars. It is concept itself that fascinates me. I love to indulge in ideas, dreams, visions.

Books, films, games, the typical stuff that kids my age devour. These are what haunt me each time I slink down the supermarket aisles.

Sometimes the desire is so great my chest hurts and my mind aches when I realize how little money I have. I can’t possibly indulge in everything that calls out to me.

Usually I have to take a step back and observe my reaction. I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m always going to be driven by desire, and over-indulging isn’t going to satisfy that hunger. The only thing that’s going to stop the urge to consume is to contemplate it.

“I want Guild Wars 2,” I say to myself. The very mention of the game instills a desire. Why? For me, the answer is relatively simple: I enjoy fantasy, and I enjoy role-playing. The fact that I can indulge in mythical combat and conquest with my friends is very alluring. The concept is what fascinates and intrigues me.

However, the concept of conquest is a dangerous one. In order to limit the unbridled desire for such a thing, I have to evaluate myself and what it is really worth to me.

When it all boils down, it’s not worth that much. The cost is primarily my time and money.

I worry that I indulge too much, and that I place too high a value on entertainment. This, I believe, is the modern existential dilemma. Just what are we doing with our time?

But then, I remember the things that truly mean the most to me.

Talking with my wife-to-be, learning something objective, remembering to call my grandmother on her birthday (or, at least being reminded to do so; I have such a terrible memory) and suddenly things seem less bleak. I can still appreciate and identify what has real value to me.

I can suddenly feel some of that weight lift off of my shoulders.