Thursday, August 15, 2013

Vendors of Love

I had an unusual dream and I wanted to write this down before forgetting:

Abigail, one of my friends, asked me for help in rewriting a song. We were at a resort in the cafe/store. She put a bottle of blue Mountain Dew on the counter and I read the lyrics from a yellow note pad. Something was off about the song's first line. It was too literal and stiff-sounding.

I said 'you remember the first line to TLC's "Waterfalls." A bunch of tourists chimed in 'yeah.' We started singing the song (mumbling through sections we didn't understand). Then I said 'yes, that's what it should be like.' That was gist of my advice.

I put something on the counter to purchase and they kept trying to charge me for the Mountain Dew, which I was adamant about not taking. The soda sat on the counter for over a day and they kept trying to charge it to people. No one wanted to buy it. Finally the clerk laughed and just put it back on the shelf. End of dream.

When I awoke I hadn't even heard my alarm. I missed it by over 2 hours but felt restful. I walked to the bathroom and thought about the meaning.

The dream seems fairly straight-forward. I'm aware of the ghosts of several other dreams overlapping and flowing through this 'Mountain Dew' dream but that was the strongest part that stayed with me upon waking.

Perhaps this has to do with conversation I had about 'enabling.' My friend was worried about being an enabler and I asked bluntly 'what does that word even mean for you?' In the context of the conversation, I was starting to get irritated by the awareness that 'enabling' was becoming this vague psycho-babble salve we were just throwing around.

My definition of enabling was five short words: buying something you don't want. I had an image in my head of a marketplace with all these rows of vendors. At each stall, people are yelling offers and waving around their wares. Merchants are selling with all their heart. I don't have to listen to them, much less buy what they're selling. If I do buy what they're selling and I know that I don't want the product...let's say blue-flavored Mountain Dew... then I'm buying it for another reason.

If I continue to buy what I don't want then I'm filling up my life with what I don't need and also keeping this seller in business for the wrong reason. I'm giving them false hope and convincing them to restock up Mountain Dew.

People are always trying to sell something: guilt, shame, childhood fear, delusion, hope, dreams, optimism, grandeur, small-thinking, love, groupthink, anger. Each one has its own stall in the marketplace and the vendor is shouting with a fervid gusto to consumers.  Merchants don't selling their products to ruin my life, they're not evil nor are they necessarily good. They're selling it because someone sold it to them and they believe it has value.

If all the world is a marketplace of ideas, then I have a choice over what I buy. If I stock up on shame, then that's not the vendors fault. That's enabling. And by enabling I'm making the world a worse place because I'm sending signals to the vendor to restock and bring back more shame. But if I shop at the stalls that sell love and forgiveness, then those merchants receive the message as well: bring back more.

I think so many of us are fed the rotten fruits of hatred as children. Our parents or teachers or friends fed us these disgusting meals and we didn't know any better. We ate it because we thought the entire world was the Mountain Dew stall in the town square. As an adult we get to walk the entire market.

No one serves an inedible meal and blames their mom from 20 years ago as the reason why they're continuing to buy, prepare, and consume garbage. No one buys an ill-fitting suit and blames the purchase on their teacher from 3rd grade. Yet, we do that all the time with negative emotions from the past. But we don't have to buy them. And our mothers and fathers didn't have to buy them either, but they did because the world convinced them. But we can break the cycle of bad purchases. There's no need to hate the vendor or get into an argument with them either, or convince them to sell something differently.

 We just shop elsewhere and patronize the merchants of love. The stores of hatred have only a few choices. They either 1) restock their shelves with something appealing 2) or they go out of business. There's no animosity in this end. The business world is direct and clear-eyed.

Religions get discontinued like old cell phones when they stop serving a purpose or become obsolete to the needs of the consumer. The Shakers or Mennonites served the world and then no one wanted to buy their ideas, so they went away. The stores stopped restocking their shelves and the factory stopped making the product. Eventually one day someone realizes they possess the last vestiges of a religion or idea and it becomes an antique. They either throw it away or put glass around it and sell it as an antique.

There are so many obsolete ideas in our world today that we enable. They're purchased out of familiarity or a sense of obligation to our identity or tribe. But these ideas no longer serve a purpose or the side effects have become poisonous. Once we stop purchasing these ideas, then we won't have them in our world. The businesses will have to clear their shelves when the due date expires. The vendors will go out of business. The factories and farm will cease to make that product.

This marketplace is replicated on a macro-level to every arena of life: politics, religion, art, entertainment. But the market also exists on the micro-level of our own body and mind. What I'm buying sends signals to the vendors to restock the shelves, who send orders to the factories and farms of my mind.

I have to remember to make the right purchases every day and patronize the ideas I wish to see proliferate themselves. Today I choose love.

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