Shop If You Must

My shopping is very nearly done, I’m happy to report. Unfortunately, I am much better at buying for myself than other people. For this reason I look upon the presents I buy as large and elaborately wrapped gift cards. I do the best I can, but I’ve learned not to take the returns personally. Though I have to say, I used to be a terrible shopper, even for myself. I would often come home with clothes that did not fit, or were a bad cut, or the wrong color. It was as if I didn’t want to hurt the sales person’s feelings, or look too indecisive, or I would simply go into a kind of panic, drowning in all the choices. I’m better at it now, however, and I have writing to thank for it.

When I go shopping, assuming I don’t know exactly what I want (a white shirt; a black sweater), I decide how it is I want to feel when I try on the clothes. Do I want to feel sophisticated, urban, casual, rugged, or some nameless combination of all four? This follows one of my Rules of Writing: Feel first; write second. The clothes become like words, scenes, or narrative arcs. If I simply go in and start trying things on, I have nothing against which to judge the clothes, no definition of yes. Plenty of things fit; plenty of things are the right color—but what do I feel like when I wear them, and how do I want to feel?

This must be in part why some people become addicted to shopping. Shopping becomes a creative act, a means to match a feeling within to a reality with-out, and for some people, shopping is the only tangible experience of this fundamental human drive. I used to sneer at the young women with their armloads of shopping bags. So vapid, I thought. No more. If shopping was the only way I could think to create, I’d bust the bank. Plus, anytime you stop and ask yourself what you like most—whether in a dress shoe or cup of coffee—you are seeking alignment with the creative current that moves all life forward.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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