Saturday, June 9, 2007
Shop till you ... stop?
I was so very American today. I indulged in shopping therapy. This is something I can honestly say I have only done a few times before in my life. I'm with my mom who says, "If I wake up and find myself in a mall, I'll know I've died and gone to hell." Shopping is something I do out of necessity. (I do like grocery shopping, but that's just because I like food so much.) Today I got: a purse, a pair of shorts, a summer shirt, a pair of linen just-below-the-knee slacks, some good dark chocolate, 2 bottles of wine, assorted junk food and (ta-da!) a funky new pair of glasses.
I'm pretty sure that only the chocolate was fairly traded.
Of course, I can tell you why I needed each of these purchases: pants because my weight has been in flux and I keep changing shapes, the purse because I don't have a light-colored one for summer, the wine because I have friends coming over this week ... etc., etc. And other than the glasses (which were the most expensive pair I've ever gotten!) all of these things were inexpensive, no splurges.
But here's the thing: I did it to make myself feel better. I went out with the intention of buying stuff to improve my mood. It certainly distracted me for a while. (I'm wearing the shorts and I just have to say: they are cute.) When my glasses come in, I think I'll enjoy the perky red frames. And let me be honest here: the adoring attention of the woman at the glasses boutique was delightful ("Wow - those really make your eyes pop!" "Oh, those brighten your skin tone!"). This is why they can charge so much more than Sears Optical.
Now it's Saturday night, and I'm still without my son and still feeling spiritually adrift about my life in general and still wishing my closest friends were closer in location. Like all distractions, shopping's effect lasts only so long. What if, instead of shopping, I had spent those same hours: doing yoga, journaling, helping an older neighbor, doing something creative, reading the Bible, reading a novel, working on a Habitat House, even visiting my father (intead of snapping at him on the phone, which I did this morning).
Of course I know that one day of shopping therapy is not a huge deal. God knows I've done much, much worse in my life. And I know that even if I had not gone shopping, there's no guarantee I would have done something more productive or helpful or creative or grounding. But it occurs to me that when one is suffering from self-absorption, shopping is probably not the best antidote. Maybe I'm writing this to remind myself: OK, that was fun. Now, what are you going to do tomorrow?