Life, Culture and Travels from the perspective of a Cuban
The Biggest Trap
Categories: TorontoNTERO

I left the store with FOUR sweaters. A coworker told me on Friday that there was an extra 50% off on sale items at the Eaton Centre’s Forever 21 and for $25.00 I got a bunch of clothes that I do not really need.

I did not realize (I ignored it, apparently) this until I arrived home and my husband looked at the yellow bag and asked: – Did you buy things for Cuba?. He obviously knows about my endless Cuba list but when my face turned gloomy and my guilt showed I did not have to confess a thing.

I did confess, though. We started a conversation that brought me to reflexion, to this post and to a new commitment to myself: not to fall into one of the biggest traps of our time: shopping.

At the same mall, a month ago, Costa Blanca had a one day sale of 40% off the entire store and (insert shame face here) I got FOUR sweaters. I never imagined I could like sweaters this much. I thought I was more into silver jewellery, shoes or perhaps bags. Do I have a sweater problem? No. But I think the number of long-sleeve-crap, (just to mention that particular piece of clothing), that I own at the moment is ridiculous. I am getting ready for at least five Canadian winters and I do not even like cold weather. I am mad.

Two years ago, we decided to travel and quickly understood what getting rid of an apartment meant. We packed some boxes in a garage and moved around with a backpack for over a year. During that time, I did not buy anything but the necessary. I actually despised the idea of owning more things as it meant more weight to carry and less money to enjoy the world out there. I did not clutter my space with any useless purchases and wisely managed my expenses.

I wanted to try new things and to go one mile further to visit foreign places. I was content.

What happened then? I came back to Toronto and started to work again. During the spring and summer, I was still indifferent to the stores and suddenly with the fall, I rediscovered the mall during lunch time and after work hours. I have never been even half as bad as the people I see in Toronto, but I have the feeling that this is just a matter of time.

If I am not aware of it I will end up “converting”.

This is not only a North American problem. I have seen it everywhere I have travelled. Wealthy people from mainland China travel to Hong Kong and Paris to shop. Also citizens that come from poverty are often obsessed with material things.

Malls are THE new religion, what unites us all nowadays, a conversation subject that will instantly get you new friends. “Oh, I love your shoes”.”Where did you get them?”.Women go after Michael Kors watches, Coach bags and all sort of overpriced brand names that make them feel cool for one season. We can call it whatever we want: a hobby, a therapy, a style, a way to fulfill our lives or to feel happier in our spare time. I am still not sure exactly how it works for each individual but it is pretty clear that it is widespread.

The same way magnificent churches have attracted people throughout centuries commercial centres entice citizens today. Have you noticed the cleanliness, the loud music, the soap smell, the amazing deals (a.k.a SALES) that make us come back? Well, think of all the other things we could do with the product of our work. It takes sacrifice and time to earn the money so we might as well spend the free time and the budget in something that will bring us true joy and experience. The thought of travelling more sells it for me. I seriously have to stop being a fool.


Also published on Medium.

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