an empty bag : shopping for “more”

Have you ever gone shopping?

Ha, what a question, right? Of course you’ve been shopping. But have you ever been shopping just to shop?

Yeah? Me too. 

Usually, I’m looking for something – anything – to lift my spirits, as if a new bra has the power to alter my daily reality. But then I get home, and I realize nothing’s changed. I throw on an outfit only to find that my life is exactly the same. I am exactly the same. And then I start to think, You know, this outfit really needed a new pair of shoes to go with it. And while I’m at it, I could treat myself to a handbag. 

Except I go out and there’s nothing I really want. There’s nothing that calls my name. There’s nothing that fills that insatiable void in the pit of my stomach. I leave the store feeling depleted, and then I realize, It’s not like I missed out on anything special. I just wanted something new.

It’s a slippery slope, y’all.

You see, I’m convinced that when we feel drawn towards a certain kind of purse or hat or necklace or car or set of sheets, we’re not actually so drawn towards the item as we are towards the feeling we hope that item will evoke in us. If I buy a leather bag with fringe, then people will know I’m unique and rebellious. If I buy that chic, delicate gold chain necklace, then I, too, will be chic and delicate, as if the gold might be absorbed through my skin and begin to radiate its brilliance from within.

But that’s why it’s always so hard to find the perfect thing, and why it’s impossible to be satisfied when we do.  That’s why we keep searching, even when we forget what we’re looking for. That’s why we’re so unhappy – because we’re rarely actually getting, buying, or even seeking out the things that we actually want. What we end up with…is an empty bag.

I mean, yes, sometimes going out and buying a new pair of workout leggings will actually motivate us to get outside and move our bodies. Sometimes sipping on a really good glass of red wine while watching a rom-com in a rainstorm will truly work to distract us from a stressful day. But stuff? Stuff is just stuff. Stuff makes piles. Stuff adds stress. Too much stuff makes us begin to question who we even are.

Here’s a short example:

A few months back, I splurged on a designer canvas tote. When it arrived in the mail, it took weeks for me to even unwrap it. I used it for a weekend, not even taking off the tags, and realized I was terrified of getting it dirty. It was too big. I was still looking for more, and it hadn’t filled the void inside of me. So I listed it online and sold it to another girl. And despite my best intentions, in the back of my mind I’m still looking for its replacement. Come to find out, that’s the fault of my feminine longing, but we’ll visit that subject another day.

So what does my experience tell us? What does it prove?

Well, when it comes to my life, living in the consumerist ideal of luxury is a lie. Much like the debate against the white shag rug, my life is not the best canvas for nice things. That’s not to say I can’t have them, but that I need to be intentional and think deeply about my desire for the elusive “more.”

The truth is, the “more” I’m searching for is already hidden in the little luxuries of living on a farm in Williamson County, Tennessee. The struggle is learning to notice it, utilize it, and not take it for granted.

Your “more” could be a host of traits, accomplishments, or experiences you’d like to pursue. It could be found in the things you create, in the moments you treasure, or the way you share yourself with friends and family. Finding it is a daily process, but I can assure you it won’t be found at the mall. It won’t be found on Facebook Marketplace, either.

So, the next time you feel that tug of “If I only had ____,” stop and think. What does “____” represent? What is it trying to heal? Is it worth it? Or would your time be better spent painting, or meditating, or reading, or calling up a friend to go on a hike?

You might be surprised when you reach the answer.