Time to simplify

Published 2:02 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It didn’t take retailers long to figure out how to try to sell stuff in tough times. Several commercials — the ones I saw were for Target — show a host of “new” ideas for living in this time of economic challenge.

One scene shows a couple sitting in front of a television holding a bowl of popcorn with the caption, “the new movie night.” Another has Dad giving his boys a haircut instead of going to the barber shop or salon.

Every time I see the ads I smile, almost laugh, at these “new” ways of living. I laugh because they look a lot like the things we did when I was a child back in the good old days.

You remember the good old days. That time when we didn’t feel a need to entertain ourselves to the point of bankruptcy.

We sat in the living room watching television together and enjoyed it. Movie nights out were rare because we were a big family and money went for priorities before entertainment. If we went to a drive-in movie, it was a treat that became a great memory.

And there were nights we never turned the television on. Instead we played games, Scrabble, Monopoly, checkers even I Spy. Sometimes we just talked to each other and we didn’t feel deprived. By the way, one of the commercials has a family playing games together, so everything old is new again.

Funny that it takes a financial meltdown for us to step back and look at the big picture. I guess we need something to shake us to wake us and to make us take stock of things.

Of course, I am a Pollyanna who sees the glass as half full, maybe even three-quarters full. So I think there is a positive side to the negative economic news and these commercials are an example of it.

Perhaps they are a sign that folks are ready to live in a simpler place, a place we left behind in our mad rush to get better by filling our lives up with stuff, a lot of it things we couldn’t afford. Apparently the creator of these ads thinks that is true.

We tried the, “I want it no matter what it costs and I should have it now,” way of life and it hasn’t worked out the way we planned. What we must ask ourselves is, are we happier, more at peace, are our lives more joyful?

Or have we created stress and worry about how we’ll pay for the things that were supposed to bring us joy? Are we anxious about how life will feel if we can’t find instant gratification with a credit card?

I’m hopeful about what awaits us. I’m a believer in the human spirit’s ability to rise to new heights. It may take a big push to get us moving in a different direction, but I think it will be a better direction.

My daddy used to say the outer was a reflection of the inner. If he was right, like I think he was, then we have an opportunity to learn an important lesson by looking at what’s going on in our world. We have a chance to see a grand illustration of how using outer things like money and power never brings anything to us internally but emptiness, fear and confusion.

Of course, included in that lesson is the truth that we don’t need to buy as much stuff, at least not until we can buy it without using credit.

I can’t wait to see the commercials they make to sell that idea.