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You can’t help thinking how much the world has changed since us silver surfers were kids. I remember a birthday when I got a pistol with caps, a red tipper truck and some lead soldiers – and that was it. Suggest that to today’s child and they will feel severely deprived, “because my friend Jamie was given…..”  Stop the stuff!

The other weekend we had to go to London on a Sunday and because the Liverpool Street line was basically being rebuilt, we had to go on the Fenchurch Street line so decided to drive over to Leigh, park in the car park and go up to town from there. Bad planning – there is a boot sale, filling the car park on Sunday! What keeps these boot sales running? People with too much junk they now want to get rid of.  On TV, gardening series’ used to predominate. Today it is programmes focusing on valuing your junk and how much it can be sold for at auction. Stop the stuff!

Going to ‘the tip’ on a Saturday morning can be a terrifying experience. Apart from the possibility of getting locked into the log-jam of vehicles off-loading their surplus, no-longer-wanted-cos-we’re-redoing-the-kitchen/bathroom/living room and other stuff, you can take your life in your hands as timber, glass, metal, furniture, fridges, goes in all directions carried by a tidal wave of humanity desperate to get uncluttered. This never happened when I was young.  

But back to this article I found myself reading the other week. The journalist entertainingly drifted on to whole other areas of modern day life after having written about “the way we can go from enthusiastically consuming something in ever increasing quantities to suddenly slipping down the other side of the bell curve, thinking, ‘Why did I ever like this thing so much in the first place?’”  He went on to suggest how we get to feeling like this by a whole variety of things – like having too much of a particular celeb appearing in social media, or of a particular fitness or health fad, or being conned into a particular fashion fad which eventually gives way to the next fad. (Where did that word come from? According to online - 1834, "hobby, pet project" (adjective faddy is from 1824), of uncertain origin. Perhaps shortened from fiddle-faddle. Or perhaps from French fadaise "trifle, nonsense," which is ultimately from Latin fatuus "stupid." From 1881 as "fashion, craze," or as Century Dictionary has it, "trivial fancy adopted and pursued for a time with irrational zeal.")  End of educational freebie (where did that originate?)

But seriously, those things had me thinking about modern life that eggs us on to have more and more, whether it is clothes, food, wine, trips to the theatre, furniture, films, TV, TV series’, DVD box sets, hours and hours of available junk TV watching, and so on.  Abundance. It is all about abundance. Of course it is not the same all round the world. This expression of the affluent world of the west in the twenty-first century, is something for which to be grateful. I remember one astute observer of the world commenting a number of years ago, if you want to undermine countries that breed so-called fundamentalist terrorism, make them all as affluent as the west. There’s a good goal! However, if the example of a certain well-known large central/eastern European country teaches us anything, it is that affluence without a strong moral base simply feeds corruption on a massive scale, and that so often apparently at the top. This is really all about affluence today that we just didn’t have sixty years ago, and with affluence comes moral dilemmas, which can challenge the conscience.

Is there any other path in life that doesn’t involve getting jaded by too many possessions, or that seeks the next bigger and scarier experience? I pondered it and reflected on a completely different life experience we Brits are quite good at.  Although there are fewer garden programmes than there were a while back, gardening in the UK at least, holds a special place for us. It is an experience, a very therapeutic experience, that involves ‘things’ – plants, bulbs, seeds etc. - and enables many, on small patch or large, to start with virtually nothing but end up with a most satisfying and often beautiful display. At the time I write this article (end of Feb 2016) a mild winter has meant that bulbs are already up and flowers are appearing and white blossom at least has been appearing on trees and bushes. It is a time, for those with eyes to see, of immense satisfaction and pleasure and, indeed, hope, a currency that is often missing as we give up on finding satisfaction through things, and search for meaningful experiences. The experience of working alongside nature is an unusually satisfying one.

Pondering more widely on the subject of “excess goods = sense of overload” perhaps a fruitful afternoon could be spent pondering a variety of periphery titles: “The satisfaction gained through giving to others” or “The mentality of thieves in an affluent society who take on a ‘what’s yours is mine’ mentality” or “Writing a simple will that has no possessions left to be disposed of” or “Providing conversation starters for friends and family by dumping our excess on their doorstep anonymously and then turning up later to hear their opinions” or “Giving to charity by buying up the contents of a local charity shop and taking it down the tip to stop my partner buying any more ‘cheap bargains’ that we didn’t want.” You get the idea.  Stop the stuff!

Perhaps being jaded over super-abundance is a preliminary stage to breaking through to something better. Time will tell. The period that you and I have watched dash past has seen immense change. Much of it has been good. (Yes, there has been ‘bad’ but let’s leave that for another time perhaps). That good will no doubt continue unless the prophets are right and we have another even worse financial collapse. Let’s hope they are wrong and it will be even better.  Let’s finish off, as usual, with some light or possibly meaningful quotes:

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.

– George Moore

Do not pursue what is illusory - property and position all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade and can be confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life - don't be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn after happiness it is after all, all the same the bitter doesn't last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing.

– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.


I try to be grateful for the abundance of the blessings that I have, for the journey that I'm on and to relish each day as a gift.

James McGreevey

"The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper." 
Eden Phillpotts

"Abundance is, in large part, an attitude." 

Sue Patton Thoele

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