I saw a book several years ago that I would still love to have someday. Flipping through the pages while standing in the bookstore, I was deeply affected by “Material World:A Global Family Portrait” created by photojournalist Peter Menzel. He and his team traveled around the world, seeking out families willing to have all their earthly possessions moved out of their home and into the street. Peter photographed each family standing with their belongings as well as taking pictures of their daily life and culture. It is fascinating and eye-opening. The starkest contrast for me was the American family, whose belongings filled an entire cul-de-sac compared to a family from Tibet whose belongings were mostly contained on a small table.
If anyone’s at a loss about what to get me for Christmas, any of Peter’s books would be wonderful! He’s recently finished one about what and how much people around the world eat. Also very interesting.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in these last three years is to be content no matter what, even when my housing, my clothes, or my budget are not what I wish they were. There are so much more lasting and important things in life than tangible things. In fact, having less is sometimes freeing – not as much to worry about, insure, and store. Don’t get me wrong – when I walk around a mall I wish I had several thousand dollars – I could do some serious damage buying clothes, shoes, Bath & Body stuff, you name it. I love to shop. And I have to admit, I love stuff.
Today at lunch John, Krissy and I were talking about using all the food in the pantry and being creative. So often there are things in there I’ve bought at the grocery store a long time ago and never used. Krissy commented, “That’s ’cause we’re poor.” And we all laughed. We’re not poor! We’re a little squeezed by our squeaky tight budget but my goodness, we have so much more than so many people around the world. And…things don’t bring peace, love, freedom, joy, or fulfillment.
We’re so privileged in America, but maybe that’s a disadvantage. What do you think?