There are so many people on the Strand. There are kite surfers and swimmers, tanning girls and shirtless guys, couples and kiddies… As soon as you’re on the sidewalk, you just know that today, these people are here for the fun of it. Today is a day to relax.
But last Saturday, I didn’t feel so relaxed.
I felt weird. I felt strange because I realized I could come to the beach every weekend — every day if I wanted — to do nothing but get baked by the sun from 10 to 4. I sat there and watched sail boats breeze by and listened to my friends talk about Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, and their fathers working in the oil industry. I laid on my towel, and felt something that I couldn’t quite pinpoint as a feeling.
Far away, I knew Aimee was probably sweeping the homestead and Gertrude was probably washing another excessive load of clothes. Their time off involves sitting on a porch and watching kids chase each other around playing hand games. I know there are beaches in their countries, but they probably haven’t been there. And even if they have, the experience probably isn’t the same.
Imagine Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMA’s. Then imagine Ronald dancing at the orphanage simply ecstatic about our headlamps. Here’s the reality: they’re both part of the same species on the same planet. Their lives are completely different yet they live at the same time.
I’m not sure if this is belated culture shock or what… I do think excess is the biggest difference between these two worlds. There’s just so much stuff here. After realizing that, I try to act on it and waste less food and ignore TV ad fantasies, but I don’t always succeed. Capitalism is alluring and I’ll admit flat out that I’d be a complete hypocrite if I pretended that I lived a spartan life completely in tune with my “hardline” ideals. Hats off to marketers worldwide. I mean, I just booked a $500+ trip to the Great Barrier Reef. I’ve never invested my personal money anywhere close to that amount to charity. And I still want to see New Zealand.
Just to make myself feel better, l’ll just mention the stereotypical American girl in my Human Rights class. She’s loud, opinionated, and apparently believes a lot of third-world problems can be solved if we “just give them a **** ton of money”. I guess there’s chance she was joking.
I’m not saying I’m not happy or grateful that I can do the things I do. I feel a little guilty, but it doesn’t stop me from buying fries from McDonald’s or rock climbing at Mount Stuart. I’m not trying to say you can’t have nice things or have to justify happiness. Actually I’m not sure what I’m trying to say. I’m just saying.