A Blog A Day

It\’s a blog where I write about the extraordinary and the ordinary things going on in my life.

Shopping As A Form Of Enlightenment

I went shopping today. I bought a pair of new shoes and two shirts. Although I love the shirts and the shoes that I bought, I started thinking about how empty it felt. I may have enjoyed the experience of shopping and having fulfilled my desire but I realized that once I started shopping, I wanted more.

I only wanted to buy one shirt but ended up buying two shirts. I wanted to buy a cheap pair of shoes but I ended up buying an expensive pair of shoes. When I saw a cute bracelet behind the shopping counter, I wanted to buy that one too. Then, all of a sudden, I started thinking about the things that I wanted to buy– an expensive pair of underwear, bags, more shoes, and more clothes. Once you give in to your desire, what is stopping you from wanting more? How do you draw a line between need and want? The really hard part is knowing the reason why you want more when you already have enough.

Then, I started seeing myself a few years from now. I realized that if I continued on this materialistic path, I might possibly marry a rich man. He’d be able to provide for me and our future family. We’d go on expensive vacations. Our children will go to the best exclusive schools. I’d have shopping money to spend on clothes and on jewelries. I’d be able to buy all the shoes and bags that I could ever dream of. I’d probably be happy for a while, until the craving and the want for something more starts to take over. Then, I will become a slave to my materialism.

Then I started to think about the type of man I’m going to marry. He will be able to provide me with all my material needs. But our time together will be scheduled because he’d be too busy with work. We would probably vacation in Europe but we would have to plan it months ahead of time because of his many appointments. Our children would be educated in good schools but we would barely see them because our children will be swamped by school work. Although in the surface, my life would seem perfect, inside it would feel hollow. And I’d start to feel sad again for myself and for my family. Money can’t ever buy happiness. And the pursuit of all things material will only provide momentary happiness.

I started thinking about Richard again. I started thinking about how humble and simple he is. My parents wouldn’t want me to be with someone like him. Richard buys his clothes and shoes at a second-hand store. He doesn’t talk about it much ( perhaps he is embarrassed by it ) but he has money problems. His family used to live in an area that some would consider a slum area. But when he mentioned where he used to live, he was proud of it. He has never tried or pretended to be someone else. He’s just a simple man and that’s why I think I need him in my life.

When I started thinking about Richard, I felt a little guilty for being born privileged. I spent an afternoon shopping for expensive clothes when Richard buys his clothes at a thrift shop. He once told me that he felt embarrassed when the second-hand sandals that he bought started to fall apart.

Unlike Richard, I can buy whatever I want, when I want to. I’ve never really had problems with money. I go to work not because I need to go to work but because I’m afraid that I’d turn out to be a dull person. I’m afraid of becoming bored.

I don’t have to hide the fact that I’m born privileged. People see that. The way I talk, and the way I walk and even the way I look, suggests that I can afford many things. People would often tell me, ” You’re rich but you don’t try to flaunt your wealth.” And I always take this as a compliment. I don’t like to boast. I never tried to be anything other than me.

But I also know that money can’t buy happiness. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. My father and his siblings inherited a huge amount of money several years ago. But the money never made them happy. In fact, before they got a hold of their inheritance, they became greedy. They almost killed each other for money. My father became their mediator. He is passive by nature. And he knows too that money is just a tool and not the ultimate source of one’s happiness.

It’s what you do with money that determines your happiness and not money itself that will bring happiness. All the material wealth in the world won’t buy or bring happiness. That’s why there are business tycoons who have given up a huge part of their fortune to charities. They know that money can’t ever bring you happiness. If you have the power to buy and do anything that you want, what else have you got left to do? Money is just a tool. And it can be used for either good or for evil.

When my cousin learned that I fancied Richard, he told me the most hurtful thing. He said, ” Why do you choose him? Your father and sister are lawyers. Your family has money. Why would you choose a simple guy like him?” And I remember getting angry and sad at the same time. I educated my cousin and told him, ” It’s not the money that matters. It’s the person that matters. I just like him because of the way he is.” That seemed to have shut my cousin up.

The thing is, I don’t have a clue why I like Richard. He’s not rich. He’s cute but he’s simple. He’s just a simple man. I take up the subject of Buddhism with him, and sometimes he can’t relate. He’s just a simple guy with simple needs. And that’s why I think I’ve fallen for him.

Sometimes I struggle with my feelings for him. I don’t want to feel something for him. I feel as if he’s not the man that I’m looking for. But I realize that I tend to think this way when my ego or my thinking mind takes over. My thinking mind wants this kind of guy: a guy who is a professional, a guy who has a direction in life, a guy who has goals and ambitions, a guy who is able to talk to me intellectually. But then, my heart says a different thing.

My heart has chosen Richard. And my heart feels that I need someone like Richard in my life. Someone simple and down-to-earth. Someone who isn’t complicated. A person who somehow complements me. I tend to complicate things and over analyze things. Richard breaks down complex things into simple things. I tend to be an impulsive shopper who likes to shop like there’s no tomorrow. Richard is practical and tries to think about ways of budgeting his money.

The third to the last time Richard and I spent together, he invited me to dine with him at a road-side eatery. When I met him, he didn’t put on any nice clothes. He just came in short pants and a sleeveless shirt. He wore flip-flops. Since I was on my way to work, I was in my work clothes. I was overdressed for the occasion but I didn’t mind the fact that we were spending time at a place where cars would pass by. I’m never self-conscious when I’m with him. Not with the way I dressed though.

We enjoyed our short time together talking about nonsense. It wasn’t really the conversation that mattered but the company. I knew that Richard had a limited budget. I was touched when he asked to pay. I tried to hold back my tears. I knew he had barely enough money for himself but he was willing to pay for my food. It was a gesture that I would never forget.

When it was time to say goodbye, I felt so sad. I told him, ” I don’t want to go to work.” And he told me, ” You still have work. You’ll be late if you don’t go to work.” I didn’t know how to cross the street. He accompanied me and shielded me from the passing cars. While crossing the street, I panicked and shrieked. I saw that his hand tried to move. He was probably going to hold my hand to guide me. But I saw that he held back.

Richard escorted me to my car. We weren’t able to say our goodbyes. It was strange, but it happens a lot with us. We don’t say goodbye. Seeing that I was safe, he took off without even looking back. We’ve made a habit of that. I’d either do that to him, or he’d do that to me. We never formally say goodbye.

It’s so painful to say goodbye to him. I want to see him everyday but I don’t think I can stand the feeling of saying goodbye to him at the end of the day. So, I’d rather not see him everyday because it would mean by the end of the day, we’d have to say goodbye.

I don’t know what purpose Richard serves in my life. All I know is that ever since I met him, I haven’t been the same. I haven’t looked at the world the same way. And when I’m with him, I start to appreciate the little things and the small things. I start to look at my life with a new pair of eyes. And I feel grateful for him and for the life that I’ve been given.

When I try to compare the kind of man I’m supposed to be with and the kind of man that my life needs, there’s a huge disparity. Sometimes, what we need and what we want has a huge gap. And if you are able to understand the nature behind your need and your want, that’s when you’ll find happiness.

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