Mirrors and Necklaces

Remember the stories of American natives, giving away their treasures to the conquerers that had arrived to colonize them? Unassuming of what was coming, many Indians were happy to trade their gold, their cities, and ultimately their sovereignty for mirrors and necklaces. And every school kid is astonished to hear about people exchanging their highest treasures for something ultimately worthless.

Of course, the Indians didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t know about the value gold and pearls had for their visitors, and they didn’t know about the greed their initial generosity would trigger. Anyway, most school kids assume, weren’t they also stupid? Something like that could never happen to us! We know about the value of the things we own, and we would never give them away carelessly. Or, would we?

I often have to think of the Indians when I see how people can’t wait to buy the newest gadgets or pass hours in shopping malls in order to relax after work: Be it an iPad or a new pair of shoes, we are crazy to get it.

Do people really know how much their shopping is worth? In reality, most of the things we buy are the mirrors and necklaces of our times – and we decide to exchange our lives for them. Instead of making use of the time we are granted on this planet, we rather fill it with meaningless work in order to get the money to buy meaningless stuff, in order to experience meaningless entertainment and forget about our meaningless relationships.

But it’s just a bit of retail therapy, you might say. What’s wrong with having a big and shiny flatscreen TV, a new pair of shoes, a large DVD collection?

Only you can give the answer, and it’s quite easy to tell: When was the last time you took a hike through the forest close to your home, or went for a surf? When was the last time you spent talking to a friend or just a random stranger until dawn, without being interrupted by the sound of a ringing cellphone? When was the last time you cooked delicious food with your family, the last time you spent time playing with your kids without looking at the clock?

All these experiences don’t cost any money. They are right here, you just have to go for them. So, what are they worth to you? Are they inferior to spending the days at your job and the nights watching yet another episode of Lost? In that case, retail therapy wins. If not, shouldn’t you think about resisting mirrors and necklaces and take your life back? No charges will be applied to your credit card. All it takes is to make a decision.

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