Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Our Primal Nature?

I often get epiphanies at very odd times - in weird places. As I was changing the sheets on our bed today, it occurred to me that, perhaps, the act of shopping is part of our primal nature.

Is our bent towards the acquisition of *stuff* a leftover genetic thing from our days of hunting and gathering?

Now that, for the most part, our survival needs are met and we don't have to hunt and gather for our basic needs any longer - have we replaced that urge with the shopping and spending that consume so much of our days?

I know I shop for security reasons. This has manifested itself quite clearly in the years since 9/11. Each winter since then I have hoarded a commodity of some sort. The first year it was toilet paper. Then it was cereal. Then it was boxes of tea. This past year or so it was canned goods.

A part of my psyche told me that if I had enough of "x" on hand things would be okay. All is right with the world as long as we have canned goods!

And that's where the hunter-gatherer thing comes in. While our ancestors had to spend the better part of their days working hard for food-shelter-clothing, we now have those things in abundance. And yet our genetics remain unchanged, which leaves us with the desire to continue to hunt and gather.

Who among us hasn't experienced the thrill of bringing home a desired object - or - felt the victory of the kill when finding a great bargain? I assert that these are similar feelings to the quest and subsequent celebration that existed years ago (and, of course, may still exist for those who live and struggle in other parts of the world) when the hunters were successful.

So, once again, I will attempt to lay down my bow and arrow. I will look at all that is gathered around me - the accumulation of years of working hard and exchanging my money and life energy for stuff - and resist the primal urge to hunt and gather. I will remind myself that what I have is more than enough - and that I am safe.

Well, right after I stop at the grocery store on the way home that is...


Jennifer/The Word Cellar said...

This is a profound idea. I'd love to know if much has been written about this theory. (And to see you write more about it. Maybe a magazine article or book is in your future??) (Oh, but wait. Then people would have to buy the publication. Agh! It's a vicious circle.)

GailNHB said...

And Teavana and a friend's website for skin products. Then I will lay down my bow and arrow. It does feel good to come home with the prey, whatever it happens to be on any given day, slung over my shoulder, I admit that. More German rock sugar or extra toilet paper or ink cartridges for the printers, or hair products. Even buying "the necessities" feels like a successful hunt - of course, there is always the extra pack of "whatever" because it was on sale. Nope, I'm not over this shopping addiction just yet. Not even close.

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