Friday, June 5, 2009

Maiden's Reminder: You Are OK.

I stood in front of this billboard feeling uneasy. I wasn't being sold anything. I'm programmed to read billboards, just like I'm programmed to listen to adds on radio and TV. Commercialism surrounds me in a blanket of inadequacy. It reminds me to feel unfulfilled and out of touch with the main stream because I don't drive the X car with its Y features so I can drive Z miles per hour. I sense death knocking on my door if I don't buy A juice with its B ingredients so I can live C years longer. Everything is buy now because if you don't, D disease will claim you or E's family will be cooler than yours or F will get the girls and you'll become a pariah - marginalized to the lowest caste in society.

I'm feeling paranoid. As soon as I get a paycheck there are lines of people everywhere wanting to take my money. The process is well understood by those trained in the old circus adage, "There is a sucker born every minute". The first step to taking money out of my pocket is to convince me there is something about me that must be changed. Perhaps its my clothes? Or my complexion is blemished. Would I want anyone to see me with a zit on my forehead? Of course not, so I take my hard earned money and buy your cream that will mask my imperfection so I can feel better about myself.

This kind of daily bombardment wears down one's defenses. If we aren't careful we find our money has moved from our pockets into someone elses. That leaves us searching for ways to make more money so we can buy more things so we can feel better about who we are. This world of commercialism tells me that the clothes on my back and the shoes on my feet define me as a person. Forget my personality or temperament. I am my appearance. If I don't have that look then I'm not 'with it'. Not being 'with it' can lead to depression.

Consumer depression has opened an entirely new market. Now we see adds for prescription anti depression drugs. The adds begin with a colorless shot of a 40 something laying on a bed in a semi fetal position. The next scene shows the family gathered around the bed. The strongest in the group forces open the mouth of the depressed so the drug can be swallowed. The final ten seconds of the commercial is set in a sunny field of flowers with our character dancing with birds and children. The message of the add is simplistic, The drug will make you feel better about yourself so you can go out and spend money again. The message I get is this: If your not spending money hand over fist then you must be depressed so take a pill, feel good and happy days are here again!

And so I stopped and concentrated on the message of a blank billboard . My confusion turned to joy when its real intent became apparent. I was OK just the way I was. I shouted "THANK YOU!" to the Maiden Company for their confidence in me. I closed my eyes and rested in that tranquil thought for a moment before I continued my journey.

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