The emptiness that consumerism cannot fill

We may present an ordered and capable face to the outside world but we know a private chaos as our inner truth. Work and ambition to succeed can be used as an escape that offers the semblance and structure of coherence even if it harms our health and well-being. The fact that we can’t solve our problems from the outside in doesn’t mean we won’t try to – again and again.

To reduce life to its core, to discard the activities that are inessential to a fulfilling existence is a process seemingly without end. It’s both sad and liberating to discover that strictly for oneself there is nothing to live for; every action is revealed to be driven either by gene survival, ego games or sensory urges. What’s left is a bare aestheticism, a minimalism not just of things but more essentially of thoughts, hinting eventually of a faint tracing of the unity of objects, events, perceptions.

Rather than cluttering up our lives the true purpose of possessions is as tools to help clear time and space for inquiry. It’s a relief to release the suffocating weight of ownership, to attend to our real well-being rather than the false social standing we hope is conferred by our possessions, be they material or otherwise. Even to conclude about oneself has a subtle sense of ownership and to own even purely psychologically is later to suffer. We dig a hole within us that shopping bags or social status can’t fill.

It’s the very act of grasping for security that triggers further insecurity. While entranced by an imaginary future an actual present passes us by.

Alternatively we can reject the unreality of becoming and just be, be here and now, be content to be still, to be witness. The paradox is actual achievement is often then more likely only not as a goal but as an unlooked-for by-product.




Understanding as art and science