'What do you want for Christmas?' It is a question that stumps me a little. Thank goodness I've come to arrangements about not swapping gifts with most of the people that I know. We just feed and make things for each other instead! For aside from a wardrobe for my spare room, some frames for accumulated prints and posters and maybe a cabin bag that would be rather useful on travels that don't involve the motorhome, I have everything that I want, and need. Many of my friends and family, even our kids, have come to the similar conclusion that they have enough. Clothes are my only weakness from a consumerist perspective. I like to look funky and ring the changes but I'm not a hoarder. When I get fed up with something it gets recycled back to the charity shop from whence it came. A win-win situation I think.
So Black Friday was a bit of a non event even though I didn't celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead. I normally have one or two of those each week without even thinking so I don't need that challenge. I did a grocery shop which yielded rather a lot of those yellow sticker bargains that stock my freezer. Result! And of course, as I mentioned yesterday, I went out for a meal with a friend. But there was no compulsion to buy stuff just because it was being offered at a knock down price. I find the idea of accumulating more and more a little overwhelming, and not in a good way. Clutter in my environment isn't good for my headspace.
Don't get me wrong. My possessions are life enhancing and I feel abundantly blessed. The car and motorhome give me freedom, tools for my hobbies allow scope for creativity and the things that we've chosen in our surroundings make our house a much loved home. But I know that if I lost everything it wouldn't be the end of the world. After all I've experimented with living with very little, just a rucksack's worth on my 600 mile jaunt down the Appalachian Trail. That made nine months in a 6 x 2 metre motorhome seem positively luxurious. I know the liberation that making do with just the most carefully chosen possessions can bring.
It's no surprise to me that Matthieu Ricard, a French Buddhist monk who lives a much more simple life that my own, has been given the rather wonderful title of the World's Happiest Man. I recommend that you follow the link to his website even if it's just to look at his stunning photography. Here's his TED talk where he shares his secret. Actively fostering compassion is the key. A lot of us are already converted. In a world that seems a bit screwy I'm hopeful that we can show others through our example that there is profound joy to be had by intentionally increasing acts of kindness towards ourselves, others and our planet.