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Vapid, Pernicious Gifts of Perspective

2 Jun

I am having a lot of trouble with this piece by The Minimalists. It’s definitely forcing me to critically examine my habits and intentions, as all things that push our buttons are an invitation to do so. I admit my “love language” (perhaps the idea of love having a specific language is the true absurdity) is gifting. I do not understand at all how “gift-giving is by definition transactional.” The definitions I found describe it as NON transactional, and that is how I have always understood & practiced gift-giving, even though sometimes I am disappointed when a dear one chooses not to express their love to me in that way.

When you choose words like vapid, pernicious, grotesque, & nauseating, and make blanket statements like we gift because we are troubled by real love…well, that will stir people up and frankly, you can’t expect to follow that with “doesn’t mean there’s something necessarily wrong with buying a gift” without sounding insincere about one concept or the other.

I would like to distinguish between BUYING a gift and GIVING a gift, which are not necessarily synonymous. A gift could easily be a poem, a serenade, a meal, an experience, a service, and so on. I would counter that gifting itself is not the commodification of love, but rather marketing & advertising is, but we’ve already heard that said so much as to make it feel…


The “grotesque idea that we can commodify love” is not the idea of celebrating with a gift as it is the idea that the only or best acceptable way to express love or gratitude is with a purchased trinket. It’s a g-dam course of study in “higher” education how to manipulate people into purchasing things they have not, on their own, identified a need for. Welcome to America! It is marketing & advertising that proposed the idea that we MUST gift for every obscure holiday, and turned gift-giving into gift-exchanging. But like I admitted before, that’s nothing new to write about. Unless it is to you, in which case…email me! I have links for you!

There is such a thing as minimalist gifting. I think when a pronouncement like The Commodification of Love is made that offends a lot of people (or just me,) it’s worthwhile to examine it with more subtlety. It seems clear to me that many people have been hurt by the practice of exchanging or even giving gifts and carry a bit of resentment. If you feel gift-giving turning into gift-exchanging in any of your relationships, perhaps it is the relationship that needs deconstructed. I believe love is not transactional, just as The Minimalists state. What that means is that if you are experiencing a transaction, then you are not experiencing Love. First identify the love, then appreciate its many forms of expression, often including gifting. If you have misidentified not-love as love, it’s not the fault of the gift or even the practice of giving gifts. Gifts alone do not love make. Sometimes the people giving gifts have misidentified their own feelings as love. That is not the fault of the gift or practice of gifting either. Just because we have had our hearts broken by someone who has gifted us, does not mean gifting is wrong. Just because someone has taken offense to us abstaining from exchanging gifts does not mean gifting is wrong or even that it conflicts with minimalist philosophy.

Tangent: Another idea to consider regarding love and broken hearts is this. What if we actively practice mindfulness in heartbreak. By that I mean, let it gooooo let it goooooo, you are one with the wind and skkkkkkyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiii. It is OK to have enjoyed feeling loved or even loving regardless of how it evolved after that. It is OK to have compassion for those who broke our hearts and to give them the benefit of the doubt. I have broken some hearts along the way. I am not proud of it and I carry shame for it. I’m sure the one who broke your heart does too, even if they can’t dare greatly enough to show or admit it.

One can identify love by its true markers if one is mindful and thinks critically. Which I do believe is a hallmark of The Minimalists, but to quote my friend, the language in this piece pisses me off. And frankly the read feels like a church pamphlet. I’d benefit far more in my minimalist journey from a piece on reimagining the spirit of various holidays as well as the practice of gifting from a minimalist point of view. OH LOOK! The Minimalists included a link to JUST SUCH AN ESSAY at the bottom of their own essay, which proves they are not just cranky, dogmatic, idealists. Do enjoy the more palatable tone. And perhaps in good time I will have my own piece on minimalism as it applies to holidays and gifting, and hopefully no one will find it vapid. XO.

Drifting into Existential Outer Space on a Sunday Morning

17 May

Good morning everyone, I am looking up recipes for blueberry muffins and got distracted. Yes, AM not was. This is part of the process of internet research, don’t cha know? But BAM. There is just so much tragedy in the world and so much estrogen in my brain apparently, at the moment. It has to come out.

There’s this Amtrak derailment, there’s apparently another earthquake and downed helicopter in Nepal. There’s everything else. Inequity. Evil. Lawbreaking. One of my top 5 people flies military helicopters. I used to and have dear friends who work in transportation. Those stories really dig into the deepest fears in my heart. I am at a loss for how to see the world.

I’ve relentlessly practiced thinking very black and white, as, over the years I watched my emotions pain me and those around me so much. But black & white thinking has profound limitations and is no good for anymore, as of today. I can see plain as the day that the world does not operate as a binary system. Sure, you can reduce it to that much, as I have, by relentlessly calculating the percentages of black or white in the particular gray situation you’re facing at any given time and rounding up.

But when one’s dealing with profound tragedies punching one in the face from one’s Facebook feed every 2 minutes as one sit in one’s comfort and privilege (and gratitude for such ease) a very profound discomfort starts to wash over. A confusion. A helplessness. A kind of terror. And I believe it all springs forth from a desire to feel that we can control something…anything…but most crucially, control the probability that we and the ones we love inextricably will live another week, day, moment…and without unnecessary burden. And yet, there are factors at play that make it impossible to do that. We simply aren’t God. We only have 2 hands. Many of us can barely do algebra. The mind is powerful…but effitol. Miracles are few and far between by the standard definition. Tragedies, on the other hand, are not. And so…before I can proceed with my blueberry muffins I have to choose. I have to solve this problem before my feet will move. Not everyone has this problem. The can make their feet move as these things still swirl in their minds. Not me. It consumes me. I have to figure it out. I have to SOLVE IT before I can move on to other problems, like how much flour and sugar I should put in a bowl. But today I think I must begin a new practice. The practice of standing up and letting the river flow around my ankles instead of throwing my entire body across it in an attempt to blow the flow. I need to start seeing gray.

The world just is. I didn’t make the world. I can’t remake or unmake the world. And yet this clashes with my belief that one person can make a difference. GAH!!!!! I suppose we could just say that one person can make a difference but maybe not ALL the difference. That’s palatable, right? That’s nice and gray and not very definitive at all. GOOD GRIEF, I WANT DEFINITIVE AND THE WORLD IS NOT DEFINITIVE. Wait wait wait. Making a difference I guess…doesn’t imply control. Wow. Just a tiny but satisfying example of how the mind (my mind) can’t assimilate ALL the knowledge ALL the time. Come to think of it, it’s like I’ve learned about art recently. I begin with an idea of the outcome in mind. But rarely does the real life outcome mirror the one I imagined. It’s good and I’m pleased…but it doesn’t always look like I expected it would and that’s ok. There are mistakes and flaws, but they merge into and become part of the beauty as well. That silly revelation has shifted the earth under my feet. The idea that a mistake could be ok. That it could exist in the tapestry of life and enrich it. The challenge and struggle of working it in to the existing scene is part of the beauty and part of the enrichment. And it cures into pride.

That apparently doesn’t help me with literal train wrecks. But at least my feet are moving.

And this is why I have a Facebook nanny.

Small Victories

3 Jan

For 2015 I’ve decided to attempt 12 months without spending on non-essentials. This goal supports many changes I’m hoping to achieve in my life, in particular getting my self diagnosed “acquisition problem” under control. Acquiring is part of the hoarding spectrum.

So here I am at day 3. I wanted to buy this:


Instead, I made this:


Hooray for small victories!