Friday, November 16, 2007

In other news...

Scanning the reports of Site Meter obsessively, as I am wont to do (Google loves me, this I know/For Site Meter tells me so), I noticed a curious uptick in the number of visitors finding this place because they were searching for information on "Advent." Which is laudable, but also a kind of interesting statement about how we've structured our society. In brief, I blame consumerism.

Maybe it isn't that, actually. Took the Golden Child shopping for a coat she wanted, the other day. It was the last day of the sale, and I was worried there'd be nothing left. Silly me; they had plenty. Of course, it was a winter coat she wanted, and the temperatures have been flirting with 90 F all week, so why I thought people would do something as sensible as buy a winter coat when it was on sale, well....let's say I learned my lesson! Almost no one, of course, was enticed by the sale price; they weren't paying attention because they didn't need a coat. By today, however, with temperatures flirting with 70 (this is considered "cold" on the Gulf Coast), I'm sure the coats will be selling briskly; at the regular price.

We tend, in other words, to respond to stimuli, not to the calendar. But maybe that underscores my point, rather than undermines it. Because Xmas carols have been playing since the day after Hallowe'en in the stores I go into (mostly grocery stores), and Xmas goodies and decorations have been on display in every retail corner of this fair city since at least November 1, if not earlier. Consumerism depends on the anticipation of the season. Food Network (practically the only TV I watch, now that Jon Stewart is in re-runs) started getting us ready for Thanksgiving a week ago. Two days before Thanksgiving, they've already announced, they'll be getting us ready for Christmas. I guess the New Year's Dinners will be promoted around St. Nicholas Day, so we can get on to romantic Valentine's Day suppers by December 23rd.

There is a description of this kind of thing in the psychological literature, because I was "diagnosed" with it at one time. Essentially, I was advised, I was too busy living "in the future" to pay attention to the present. It was something of an escape mechanism for me, but it was also a cheat. It left the present hollow and my friends and family neglected as I busily built glass castles in the air which, of course, I could never move in to because I could never catch up with them; they were always "in the future." Hard to appreciate the present when you can't stop and look around at it.

And so I notice so many people so anxious (apparently; or just curious) to prepare for Advent before Advent has come, just as we must be ready for Thanksgiving so the meal is "perfect" and then be ready for Christmas so that day is "perfect," and then get ready for New Year's Eve so that party is "perfect," and....when do we ever just stop and enjoy the moment that is right before us? If we did that, of course, we might not buy all the things we need to make the future "perfect," though, and what would we do then?

If this is all starting to sound familiar, I suppose that is no accident. Advent itself is about preparation. I'll have more to say on that anon. And hopefully some new things to say about Advent throughout the season of same. But when we've reached the level of having to prepare for the preparation, well...that's getting a bit "meta-" even for me.

Advent is coming, but it is not yet. It is the season of what has come, and is coming, and what is not yet. A good place to start a new year. May we all be ready to begin, by then. In the meantime, let us live fully in the year that is ending, but not yet ended.

No comments:

Post a Comment