Friday, February 15, 2008

Dealing with Heartbreak: An Alternative to Retail Therapy

The marvelous columnist Mark Morford wrote something today that's well worth sharing. Warning: Mark is the epitome of a San Francisco liberal, with total scorn for Bush and Cheney. Don't follow the link to the full column if that will offend you. But the insight he shares is worthwhile no matter what your political philosophy may be.
Personally, I think the last time I endured an emotional trauma/major breakup I sighed heavily for about 27 days straight ...

And then I also did the thing I sometimes like to do, which is go straight to Amazon and iTunes and Beatport and maybe a fave design store and load up on a bunch of the wonderful but not exactly mandatory goods that had been accumulating in my shopping cart because, you know, what the hell, right? Books and clothes and music and Aino Aalto tumblers and a nice new watch? Bring it on. Life's too short to not be surrounded by beautiful, well-made things you love, right? And psychologically speaking, bringing in the new and the fresh and the shiny can maybe help counteract those lingering, poisonous memories and defeat the old and stagnant and the past. Right?

Well, sort of. After all, it takes no simpleminded study to know that such "therapy" is, as you already know, almost entirely devoid of substance, of lasting spiritual or emotional nourishment, as it serves merely to distract you from the real issues at hand ...

But then again, maybe shopping can help after all. Because if you're lucky, if you're at all mindful of what you're going through, once you realize the overall futility of buying more external crap to fill what's essentially an internal void, you can move through shopping's hollow pleasures and perhaps come out the other end, where you discover something even easier and more delightful and powerfully liberating than retail therapy could ever be.

In short, you discover the joys of retail therapy's exact opposite: purge therapy.

Oh my yes. This is, perhaps, the best external therapy of all, involving as it does the thoughtful and yet also utterly ruthless elimination of excess effluvia, of the enormous piles of stuff that have accumulated in the nooks and crannies of your world. It is going through drawers and closets and old photos, bedrooms and underwear drawers and sex-toy boxes as you vow, at the end of it all, to actually remain lighter and acquire less and cling to fewer egotistical/material tethers from here on out.

Does that not sound nice? Is this not the best way?

Related Post: Declining Free (but Useless) Stuff (which quotes Mark)

Further reading: Mark Morford on getting rid of stuff [via 43 Folders]

[photo: Aino Aalto tumblers]

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