Sunday, June 13, 2010

If You Buy Something Alone Did You Actually Buy It?

One of my favorite books, "Into the Wild," by John Krakauer, has got me thinking lately. Specifically Krakauer's assertion that, "Happiness is only real when shared." I really loved this idea when I read the book and then saw the movie a few years later but when I read the quote again in a recent issue of VeloNews in an article about riding your bike alone, it gave me pause. Not to give too much away about myself (and maybe I already have?) but I live alone, just me and my dog, Cadence, I ride my bike alone most of the time, run alone most of the time, watch TV alone, well, you get the picture. I also do most of my purchases alone. I would venture to guess that a lot of us do. Side story: I remember going to the grocery store with a new boyfriend years ago because we couldn't stand to do anything apart at that point and after finding several industrial sized cans of random food items in the cart I decided that maybe grocery shopping was something I could do by myself. I think it was his way of telling me he was bored out of his mind without being rude about it. He was sweet but I digress.

Most of us shop alone for clothes, for food and the random crap we all need to keep going. Big purchases are usually done with someone else, I suppose. When we spend more than $100 there seems the need for consensus thinking. "Is it the right color?" "Am I spending too much?" "How do you think it will look with the current decor." "What credit card should I put this on?" "Does this make my butt look big?" Whatever.

So does all this buying alone make us sad? Are we not happy when we buy a home alone (I did) or a car (did that too) or a vacation (done many times)? I think we are, at least I am. I don't deny that doing things with others brings a different kind of happiness and lots would argue a 'better' kind of happiness. But while I spend a lot of time alone I also spend lots of time with my friends and family and I simply don't 'grade' my happiness in that fashion. I'm either happy or I'm not. Being alone when buying a house or a car or going on vacation alone shouldn't diminish the experience. Is it merely the act of telling someone about it, making it more real, that is really what Krakauer was getting at? It's like that old saying, "If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound." Well, duh. Of course it does. And if the tree could talk it would tell you about it as you walked by.

I've also got public storage units on my mind but will torture you with that at a later date.

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