I think many of us are scared of scarcity. Afraid that we don’t have enough. It seems to be deep in our nature. How often do you wake up with the thought: “I haven’t had enough sleep.” Or throughout the day you think there isn’t enough time to finish that one thing at work, do something in your house or contact that friend.
Maybe it’s a general reflection of how you view your life. You don’t have enough friends, or you don’t have enough time to spend with the friends you do have.
Maybe it goes even deeper into how you are. You feel that you aren’t enough to be in a relationship based on love and respect. You feel that you aren’t enough when you look in the mirror. You feel a gap. And something needs to fill that in.
Today I went to a shopping mall. You have those big ones here in Kampala where you can buy anything you want. As I wandered around looking for some small things in my new home, I caught myself thinking that I really don’t like the shopping mall vibe. The airconditioning was nice in the first five minutes after a long walk, but pretty soon I felt chilly. It wasn’t just about the cold air. This idea of having everything you want all together under one roof made me feel uncomfortable. So much stuff. Displayed in the most creative ways, just to get you to buy more and more and more.
I don’t want this blog post to become some sort of rant about capitalism or just give you a one-liner about that you simple are enough. I have lots of opinions about systems like capitalism and I do like very good quotes that catch a truth in just a few words. But I don’t think that does justice to the unrest that I felt today.
So I don’t particularly like shopping.
But there is more too it than just that. I like having things around me that are meaningful to me. But meaning isn’t created by the thing itself, it’s created by the memories attached to it or the people that give it to me. Take the red rug that I am sitting on write now. Cross legged on the floor. I bought it in a second-hand store in my first week of college because my large dorm room felt empty. It helped me to create a sense of home. It had it’s place for a while in my parent’s guest room. The daughter of family friends, who sleeps over at my parent’s house regularly, has claimed it as her ‘bedtime-prayer-rug’. So often when I sit on it, I think of her kneeling down and praying before she goes to sleep. The rug in itself is comfortable, but it’s more about what this rug represents: a sense of being home. So absolutely feel no need to spend hundreds of Ugandan shillings on some sort of tourist trap rug here. Just because a shopping mall would like to make me believe that I need it.
As a ponder these thoughts about scarcity and how it is so ingrained into our human nature, I walk past a beautiful trees with an abundance of bright, pink flowers. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Definitely a bonus of living in a tropical country. It’s not something that I felt was deeply missing from my life. It’s not something I can buy or just take home with me and claim ownership over. The only thing I can do in that moment is just take a moment to enjoy the tree with its flowers. Everyone else just rushes by in their cars or on their boda’s. No one takes a look at the tree.
As I am on my way home, one question remains: “If we are so scared of scarcity, why then do we often just pass by the opportunities to enjoy the abundance that nature gives us?”