was the cry that came from a little girl in our bookstore. Her face was bright red, eyes tightly squeezed shut, snot running from her nose. She was having a full on nuclear meltdown of epic proportions. I had just rung up her mother, who was buying the most expensive books a university could sell and we all just stood and watched in amazement.
Those books that mom bought, totaled about $700 and here was her little girl losing her mind over a candy bar, a university t-shirt or a plush bear. Something. And the scene was funny up until a certain, but then things got real.
“I want something!”
Mom appeared uninterested. “Why?”
And without missing a beat, the girl shouted, “Because it’ll make me FEEL BETTER!”
And I thought about that statement and how often we feel it. I want something (not sure what) because it will make me feel better. There is a whole litany of things that make us feel better. Food, alcohol, internet cat videos, ect.
This little girl, who couldn’t express her longing for something more, is very familiar. I see the older version of her everyday in my life. Students with entitled attitudes who take school for granted, dangerous drivers who don’t know how to take their turn at a four-way stop, people who will spend enormous amounts of money on purses and shoes. . . They are everywhere.
I told the mother that I thought ignoring her child’s tantrum was quite commendable. “Not getting what you want builds character.” She shrugged and admitted that she just couldn’t afford anything else but these books. Anything else was unnecessary.
Just think, we bath in unnecessary things and no longer know the meaning of sacrifice. We are consumers of the highest degree who keep on taking “something” to escape thing the things we need. The need is different for all of us. My need is expressing myself creatively, either through this blog or by writing something else. Someone else may need to race cars or paint or teach kids how to speak English in Romania. I don’t know, you have to decide what it is.
The problem is that we don’t take the time out to decide what our need is. We instead, shout at the top of our lungs that we want ________. And we settle with ________, totally forgoing the thing that makes us special or a the very least, human.
Corporate interests are in the business of making us less human. They buy from you, your sense of self. The essence that makes you special. It’s in their best interest to make you dependent on whatever it is their selling you. The good people of Hearst, who bring you Cosmopolitan Magazine, are not satisfied with how happy you are with your body or hair. Cosmo want you to buy from their sponsors Maybelline, Revlon and CoverGirl. These people supply you with your “wants” not your “needs.”
I want to live more of my life based on my needs. My needs are learning, writing, and thinking. Anything else, just like Screaming girl’s mom said is “unnecessary.” I have to constantly remain vigilant against those tempting things that make me stray from my true needs: Watching three hours of The Office instead of writing an essay about feminist politics. You know, the usual escape.
At the end of this story we find our main character, Screaming Girl, still unable to leave the store. As all the adults look on in amusement and embarrassment, she refuses to budge from the candy counter. It isn’t until the threat of a spanking is announced, that she drags her feet through the exit and joins her mother. Crying all the way to the car, I’m almost certain that she reflects on her life as a five-year-old and what it means to escape reality. I’m almost certain of it.