There’s a scene in The Hunger Games where Peetah and Katniss attend a party at the Capitol.
There, they find an extravagant buffet of rich, exotic, and beautifully decorated foods.
The two experience a culture shock, as they come from Districts where the majority of people are literally starving.
But their shock from the volume and accessibility of food is minuscule compared to the one they experience next.
It’s from the way that the Capitol members approach food.
The residents drink a liquid that makes them throw up so they can eat more. Their desire to indulge in eating surpasses what the human body is capable of handling.. So they turn to extreme measures (which, to them, are completely “normal”) to enable them to do so.
They eat not for nourishment. But for sport.
While the rest of the districts die slowly of starvation.
Peetah and Katniss are disgusted. At the gluttony, the disrespect, but above all, the utter oblivion in which the Capitol members live.
I remember reading this part of the book and feeling disgusted, myself.
Then I realized that this isn’t too fictive at all.
This is reality.
This is our reality.
It’s neither surprise nor secret that America operates on consumerism and greed. This isn’t my opinion, it’s fact.
Our societal norm is this:
We overeat, then overexercise.
We make more money than ever, and spend more money than ever.
We overwork, get overstressed, and end up using our money on Xanax and therapists.
We do, to undo.
Break, and fix.
There is so much activity, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we have a lot.
I would argue that we have less than ever.
Of things that matter, at least.
The Paradox Of Excess & Scarcity
We live in abundance, yes. But that abundance of things easily becomes white noise. And consequently, principles that do hold value become diluted by the surrounding bullshit and our susceptibility to it.
We overproduce, overconsume, and overuse our planet. This is evident in our air and water pollution, land erosion, fishery loss, forest degradation.. The list goes on. We have so much shit – personal storage is a 22 billion dollar industry. We Yelp to find the perfect restaurant (trillion dollar industry) with the best food, get fat, then get liposuction. We smoke cigarettes (10 billion dollar industry), get cancer, get chemo. Teens spend an average of 9 hours on social media every day, growing and interacting with their followers, but get cyber bullied and don’t really have friends they trust. We are serial daters, swiping right and left, secretly yearning for true love. We have shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “The Bachelor” that monetize what are natural, sacred, wonderful human experiences – like nourishment and genuine connection.
We’re a generation that binges rather than savors. That wants to be entertained rather than enlightened. We consume mindlessly, at levels that are not sustainable to our planet – nor our humanity.
Everyone has their natural vices. But because our society not only enables, but has systems in place that encourage our submission to them, we grow up thinking it’s natural to just think about the "What I want, here and now. And TONS of it," without realizing the implications of that mindset.
Those implications being –
A lifestyle that is vacuous
And a humanity that is unloving.
Mo’ money, mo’ problems. Amirite.
Do I Even Kno How 2 Human?
For the last few years, I’ve had this unshakable thought... that I really was not meant to live on this earth, at this time, in this society.
I just feel so out of place. Is there something deeply, fundamentally wrong with me? Am I missing some vital organ that’s supposed to make me function “normally”?
There’s just too much, moving way too fast.
And I can’t focus.
It shows up in subtle ways, but symptoms from Excess are starting to really, really affect me.
My mind is the internet-browser equivalent of having 20 tabs open, and not being able to get to any of them.
I forget things instantly. Names, facts, stories, interactions.. I've formed the habit of writing everything down, not because I’m some self-actualized “writer,” but because I’m so paranoid about forgetting it. Losing it.
Experiences go through me like water. I do things like a robot. It’s done, then gone. I poop it out. And I feel emptier and ever.
It’s become a routine: Be busy all day, then get in bed and wonder, "Wait, what did I even do?"
The same way we’re living beyond our means, I feel as if I’m living beyond my own capacity.
Am I just stupid? Just less capable? I feel insecure about this all the damn time.
I feel out of control.
Everything I crave, everything I desire, everything I want to pursue – love, connection, belonging, unique experiences, rich laughter, beautiful places, extraordinary people... I feel like it’s all slipping through my fingers.
But Maybe I'm Just Holding Too Much
Here's how I'm starting to let go:
I'm poor. LOL.
Really though. I'm not broke-broke, but I do have to be conscious of how I spend my money. I just moved (back) to Downtown LA. So with an added (insert ridiculous $ amount) in rent in my budget, I have to be more frugal than ever.
But having less was a blessing in disguise.
Having less made me realize – I don't need more.
It made me utilize and truly cherish the things I do have.
I make 90% of my own food, and savor each bite. I'm selective about where I go because my car gets like 15 mpg and gas is so damn pricy. When I take a dance class (that I pay for), I pay attention to every word the choreographer says. When I'm at work, I know that each decision I make will somehow affect the success of our company, and boy, do I focus hard.
I do still harbor a social media obsession (meh), but when I'm with company – I soak them in. Getting coffee or dinner with a friend is a treat, so I find myself being more present and attentive. I look at them. Really look at them.
The quality of my relationships are starting to become more.. real.
And I find myself remembering things. Being able to hold on to feelings. Believing that I'll be able to exist without fearing getting lost in all this white noise. I can't afford that.
When Less Is More
Don't get me wrong. I would love to make more money. LIKE C'MON LET'S BE REAL.
But the point is that I'm learning to take a more directed, focused approach to every decision in my life, because I have so little. To not live so recklessly just because the rest of the world is. I wouldn't survive.
Here are some things I've been practicing – if you're interested in actionable advice.
Practicing Jessie Ma-deration
1. Organize ALL your apps into a few folders.
I have a habit of mindlessly browsing through my apps just because. If everything is a step further, it's takes more of a conscious choice to: go to Facebook, check my notifications, and close it. I'm not just floatin' around to kill time (cuz time is money!)
2: Minimize your personal belongings.
Keep only what brings you joy. Re: The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up
3: Put your phone away when you're in, you know, real life.
It's not only a lot safer, but a lot more fun. Enjoy your concert. Your coffee. Your surroundings. Just be.
4: Portion out your food.
I, like the fatass Capitol members, would eat just to eat. Graze and snack cuz I'm bored or mouth-hungry. But sectioning out only what I need has made me appreciate my body and the act of giving it the nutrients it needs.
5: Un-friend, un-follow, un-subscribe.
Your reality is your mind, so whatever occupies your thoughts makes up your life. Do you not want to see 20 photos of your high school friend's car on your feed? Unfollow him. It's totally okay.
6: Know that, as little or as much as you have...
It's not really yours, anyway.
Nothing actually belongs to us.
So whatever you happen to be holding in the present, be gentle with it.
With the world, each other, with yourself.