Skip to content

Things can't make you happy

It struck me the other day just how selfish and focused on material things most of North America is.

It struck me the other day just how selfish and focused on material things most of North America is.My husband, daughter and I were driving along the rural highways of Washington and Idaho while on our way to see my mom and dad at their favourite camping spot near Sandpoint.As we drove along through many different towns and tourist destinations, we found two things prominent in every populated area: taco stands and locker and storage facilities.Now, I have nothing against tacos, so I won't comment on their abundance. But the array of storage facilities, some seeming to fill up acres of space, was astonishing to me.Why do we have so much stuff that we need to rent an extra garage-sized space to store it?I realize people use these facilities for different reasons: for temporary storage when moving or to keep items dry and secure while bailing out a basement. But I doubt the entire 500-plus storage units we saw along the highway were being used in that manner.One open unit showed a large boat stuffed inside, and another had a car and some furniture sitting side by side.I chastised the "greedy Amer-icans" from the comfortable passenger seat of our van stuffed to the brim with things we "needed" for our vacation. Kaitlyn watched Thumbelina on DVD in the back seat, and I admired a new necklace I had purchased.By the end of our week with my parents, our van seemed to have even less room as we stuffed coolers of food and presents into every open space.We travelled the same highway home and I surveyed our moving storage unit. "We have too much stuff," I lamented, as the separation in my mind between "greedy Americans" and my family lessened.I was excited to return to the Coast where materialism doesn't have such a hold on people.As we turned down Sechelt Inlet Road, I saw a new locker and storage facility being built, and I sighed at the reality of our situation.The truth is, I'm as wrapped up in buying more things as the majority of North Americans. And I have only moments of clarity when I realize "things" can't make people happy everything we own and take pride in can be taken away with a rumble from the earth or a storm from the sea.How will our lives be measured when we're done running this race? Will it be based on our income, investments, assets and collection of stuff, or will it be based on our relationships, how often and how strongly we loved and how we impacted the world?I think the latter is true and the world's got it backwards.