Thursday, August 5, 2010

Escaping the Shopping Mall for a Walk in the Park

Due to economic necessity, I have embraced frugality for many years. I have met my needs for material objects through thrift stores and garage sales and have learned to love this way of life. Lately, I have wondered if I should take frugality to the next level and conscientiously practice anti-consumerism.

Last Sunday I went to a couple of shopping malls in Spokane, Washington with my boyfriend. As we drifted in and out of retail shops full of name-brand clothing, home d├ęcor and lists of other material things, a wave of nausea swept over my soul. There was no sense of consumerism glee within me. Instead, I rejected all these useless things, never once wanting to whip out my debit card.

In an upscale mall downtown, I noticed how every retail worker dressed to match their respective store and wondered how they could afford their clothes with their low wages. As we ate our meal of hamburgers and fries in the food court, several televisions simultaneously played an episode of Hannah Montana interspersed with commercials for more useless things.

What frightens me about our economy is that it is completely depended on consumer spending. Articles abound on how consumer spending is down therefore employers don’t hire new people. If we don’t continually spend our hard-earned dollars on things we don’t need the economy halts to a slow, miserable sputter. I can’t help but think that while we, as a nation, are spending less, we still are gluttons compared to people who lived 50 years ago.

Yet, on that Sunday afternoon we also visited Riverfront Park. We watched the ducks and geese glide along the river. Flowers were full bloom bursting with a kaleidoscope of color and fragrance. Children played in the giant Red Wagon in the park, clustered in laughter and the simple joy of being alive. We did not spend a single cent on amusement rides or food, but the sheer act of walking and observing all the beauty around us soothed my soul. After a wretched week of work, I needed a walk in the park more than ever.