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With the "season of giving" upon us, it's all about shopping, shopping, and more shopping. There's Black Friday. Cyber Monday. And look! So many shiny pretty things in most every window! And all those ads! Pop-ups, prop-ups, and all that glossy paper teasing things we MUST buy for someone we love. (Because what says "love" like STUFF, right?).
I mean, of course, we mean well. And who doesn’t enjoy a little “retail therapy" now and then? We want to give. We want to share. And, as Kabbalah encourages, selfless giving is one of the ultimate goals of a spiritual life: the wish to receive not for myself only, but in order to share with others. So in a sense, all this seems well and good.
Yet whether or not we choose to face it, every THING we get or give has a life span--which, these days, tends to be rather brief. In his poem “First Place, Last Place,” Hans Ostrom reflects upon a trophy--awarded for one feat or another--whose silver arms would be outreached "for as long as its soft, shiny, metal will last." Later, after musing at the trophy's lack of purpose once its receiver has passed, he notes how, "at garbage dumps, they break apart gracefully. '' But that’s not always the case. In fact, in a single Halloween weekend, a UK study estimated that 2,079 tons of waste entered landfills–mostly plastic pumpkins and single-use costumes. And that's just in one country. On one holiday.