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“It’s strange how the simple things in life go on while we become more difficult,” by Richard Brautigan.

In 1951, television began to change American culture, spending habits, and even family dynamics. Pre-1951 families mostly saved their money. Possessions weren’t thrown away; they were repurposed. At first TV seemed to bring families together. There might have only been one TV in a neighborhood. This meant all the children got together in one living room to watch Saturday morning cartoons and laugh together. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer was only on TV one time a year. No reruns. No chance to tape it and watch it later. This was an event. We made cookies and gathered as a family to watch it.

Now we can watch what we want when we want. For most families if you don’t like what is being watched on the living room TV, you go to the family room or your bedroom and in some homes the kitchen or bathroom and now even our cars. Around twenty-five percent of a show is set aside so we can watch a mind-numbing assault on the senses of what we MUST buy in order to be happy, fulfilled individuals. And that’s just the commercials — embedded in the show itself is an actor holding a can of a particular brand of soda or buying gas at a certain gas station.

All the simple things of my grandmother’s time and my mother’s time are still here. I just lost them for a while. I have come to view my MCS disability as a blessing. Before I was disabled, walking in the woods was something I needed to make time for. And yet, I never missed a favorite show. I made good money so I didn’t stop to worry much about the fact that my internet and cable bill are going up again.

This made me question what am I paying money for? What I see is just an illusion. I can close my eyes and daydream for free. I can pick up a book and be transported to another place for free. I can have a conversation and laugh with friends for free. I am essentially paying money to be subtly brainwashed into how I should think, act, dress, and what car I should drive. Just for fun today, count how many commercials encourage you to buy something that pollutes your body or the environment: perfume, fabric softener, boats, cars, pesticides, prescription medication, a bigger house?

Where are the commercials for solar panels or wind turbines or natural soaps? Why aren’t there commercials on how to bend over and pull that one weed from your driveway? Why aren’t there commercials telling us what foods to eat so that we don’t need that pill?

This post came about today when I went out to breakfast with my dad. I asked him would he answer some questions for a blog post about what it is like having a daughter with MCS. His response, “It’s saving me tons of money. Now I buy vinegar for 3 bucks and some baking soda to clean with.” And then he hesitated, “I used to clean with this stuff. Why did I stop?”

I can give him the reason — it is the same reason as to why he started using chemical pesticides on his tomato plants. His response when I asked him, “because  other men were doing it.” What other men? Paid actors on TV of course. When he stopped for me — amazing — but the tomatoes still grew. And now growing them was cheaper and healthier.

Today’s Intention: Today there are two — enjoy the simple things and think for myself.

When you buy things do you ask yourself — “Do I want it or do I need it?” If the answer is “I need it,” do you ever ask yourself “Why do I need this? or “Where did I get the idea I needed this?”

I hope you have a simple day today filled with mindful thoughts.

My dad knows I’m not a morning person. Me setting my alarm for 6 am to go to breakfast with him leaves him no doubt how much I love him. My dad isn’t into photography or nature and yet he drives all over after breakfast looking for eagles and swans. Today it was snowing and raining and very windy. The weather may have been miserable but the time with my dad was joyous.

Love,

Colleen

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