I have been shocked at hearing the stories of how some people treated their fellow shoppers on Black Friday. The pepper spray incidents, the muggings, the fights are all so sad. How can people get so caught up in their desire for things as to lose sight of their humanity?
Last night my son called me again from India. He is seeing some sad things, extreme poverty. He took the train and once he looked out the window and saw two children going to the bathroom in a dump. They were standing on top of a huge pile of garbage. Let's compare that quick scene to a woman so desperate for something on sale on Black Friday that she pepper sprays twenty other shoppers. What drove her to such an extreme measure?
I also have been watching the Hoarders series on television. I don't own a TV in Mexico. Since I am stuck in the house most of the time here, I have been watching it often. I am interested in how hoarders use things to comfort themselves. On one show the psychologist said that to a hoarder having to give something away is like the death of a loved one. THINGS have taken the place of people for them. They may want to have their loved ones back into their lives but they are unable to let go of their junk in order to have this happen. Many times they can't even get into their own houses because of all the junk they have collected. Often people don't start hoarding until something traumatic has happened to them.
When I watch television, I am very aware of how those commercials pound into us that we need to go out and buy. Buy, buy, buy. I also am amazed at how stupid they make the people in the commercials act. They jump up and down, do tricks and generally act like idiots. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.
I wonder if all this buying and hoarding has anything to do with fear of dying? Fear of the final ending? Sometimes I notice that I have gone out and bought another bottle of shampoo before the other one was empty. Then I have opened the second bottle before finishing the first one. After doing that a few more times, I finally notice that I have seven bottles of partly used shampoo in my shower. I do this with other things too. It takes me awhile to actually see what I am doing. It is like the hoarders living in piles of junk and not really seeing it.
A friend today told me that he gets anxious when he comes to the end of books. I sometimes do that too. I immediately need to start another book. Again, I feel in my heart that all this anxiety and hoarding and holding on to things is just a way to ward off our fear of dying. It is the final loss.
When I compare all my fears and the insanity of people pepper spraying crowds to the vision of a baby in a dump with no clothes on and covered in soot or two children squatting in a dump to go to the bathroom, I shake my head in wonder. Think of what the world would be like if we could all at once see everyone's reality. All the starvation and suffering. I guess we are protected from that knowledge to keep us from going crazy. How could a person even do a daily task like buying a bottle of shampoo with the weight of the extreme suffering of people all over the world? But maybe just a small glimpse of it will help to remind me that I am blessed to not be in poverty and not be living in a dump somewhere in India or any other country. And maybe making peace with death is also an answer. If we can be at peace with our inevitable deaths, then letting go of the daily deaths, endings and loses will be easier.