My muse was at it again. I was standing in the shower, trying to remember what was still clean that I could wear to work, mentally making a grocery list, and trying to figure out where all the extra guests were going to sleep that weekend, when my spicy Irish muse jumped into my head with a great idea for an essay. With barely enough time to brush my teeth and curl my hair, I asked her to come back later when I had enough time to devote to listening. Later that same evening she returned, and when I tried to translate her thick Irish brogue, I couldn’t even hear her, as I was thrown off by the barrage of super-loud commercials in the background. Once again I was interrupted by Inspirational Mumbo Jumbo.
Every day we are bombarded with advertising, advice, inspiration, and warnings. I myself already have a bit of attention deficit; it’s hard for me to sit still for any length of time and concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Not to worry, though, for there are plenty of opportunities to be reminded of how bad off we really are. We are overweight, wrinkled, and dull. Our bodies are toxic and our cholesterol is too high. We don’t have time to cook, exercise, chop vegetables or play with our kids. But there is a cure for that ― just ask advertisers.
The other day on the radio I heard that the infomercial business is a 30 billion dollar a year enterprise. Just think — 30 billion dollars spent a year on ways to clean-up, tighten-up, and detox-up our bodies and our minds. Not only can we firm our thighs and flabby under arms, but we can look like a movie star when we buy their jewelry or stay at their villas. We can organize our closet, scrub up doggie accidents from the carpet, and slice up vegetables in one swoop. Men can take pills for non-functioning parts and women for over-functioning ones.
How did we ever survive this long on our own? How did our mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers live with wrinkles and dry skin and messy closets?
Most of us would like to be a little thinner or have beautiful hair or be able to drain spaghetti in the same pot as the drainer. Left to digest this information in solitude, the messages from all these Infomercials play to our insecurities and dissatisfactions. Advertisers zero in on our weaknesses, and do such a good job of pointing out our inadequacies that we buy improvement on the spot without having to think about it or leave the comfort of our sofa. After all, doesn’t everyone wants to taste just a bit of the “happily ever after” cake? After all, for just a few dollars, you can have not only a taste of the cake, but a whole piece.
I’m not against advertising. I learn about a lot of new products and ideas and new versions of old versions every time I watch TV or read a magazine or walk through the grocery store. I enjoy shopping, redecorating and cooking. I get tired of digging through the laundry basket to find underwear, and I keep thinking I’m too old for pimples. But finding a solution to my mini dilemmas should be fueled by my judgment, not advertisers.
It’s time to realize that we have always had the whole cake. We just haven’t realized it. Appreciated it. Tasted it. We have the capacity for unbounded love, compassion, and understanding. We have the ability to create our own environments, our own spiritual havens. From astronomy to astrology, we have the power to discover magic both inside and outside of ourselves. And discovery doesn’t cost a thing.
But there is something wrong when people run after quick fixes to fix the holes in their heart. There is something wrong when we are told how messed up we really are and how that can be changed with a quick purchase off the Internet. To believe that the answer for happiness and peace of mind is outside of us is playing into the hands of marketers and profiteers who take our money and our trust and leave no instructions behind ― people who have never met us, never sat at our dinner table, never took the time to find out why our closets are so disorganized in the first place.
So go out and buy that great pair of jeans or that shampoo for bright, shiny hair or those celebrity-endorsed pots and pans. But realize that you are just as fantastic in those beat up jeans with the elastic waist, and that your homemade lasagna will taste just as good in your worn out baking pan as it will in the latest non-stick wonder.
Sparkle is free. The fire inside of you is free. Everything else is just hype. Mumbo Jumbo. The only infomercial that matters is the one that broadcasts in your heart.
Even if that message has an Irish brogue.