Wednesday, May 24, 2006
HUNTING AND GATHERING
I found this thought provoking post on Clare Dudman's blog a few days ago and have been talking about it ever since. Apparently, they have a series on the BBC, which she refers to as "The Happiness Programmes".
In the episode she discusses, they focus on consumerism, the path so many of us take in the quest for happiness, only to find ourselves lost in deep woods, or trapped in a house that is gradually being taken over by a dangerous proliferation of STUFF.
However, according to Dudman's piece, we're hardwired to go out and bring stuff back--just like I'm driven to suit up in my waitressing gear and pick up a tray in the spring. It's as old and primal as the hunter-gatherer instinct, except like a lot of our instincts, it's been screwed up by our distance from nature, and the genius of advertisers.
So yeah, I read this and I was thinking about it for days. Every time, I went to pick something up in a store, I asked myself, "Do I really need this? Or is my over-civilized hunter-gatherer instinct just homing in on the wrong prey?
I was thinking about it at work the other day, too. At the end of the shift, we bag up the leftovers to take home. It's an amazingly satisfying activity--even though half of my carefully wrapped kill rots in my fridge after I get it home.
The other night I got two pieces of chicken parmesan (which were promptly eaten by my son), a quart of minestrone (lunch the following day) and an oatmeal cookie, which someone had left behind on the table. (My mother gobbled that up with her tea when she stopped by.)
While we were packing up our spoils, I decided to share a little bit of the happiness programmes with my co-workers.
"You know why we're doing this?" I asked.
"Because we didn't get any dinner, and we're planning to wolf this when we get home,"
one intrepid co-worker ventured.
But I was already shaking my head, smartypants style. "Nope. Because it satisfies the hunter-gatherer instinct."
"Maybe that's why you're taking it home. I'm doing it cause I'm hungry," my pragmatic co-worker replied as he packed his dinner into a plastic bag.
But we had been overheard by another worker, who laughed out loud. "So that's what you're thinking about while you walk around the dining room with a dreamy look on your face? Hunting and gathering?"
Yup. That's what I'm thinking about.