As soon as we arrived in Munich we took the subway to our hotel, dropped off our luggage and headed back out. It was 5 pm on Friday, people were everywhere. We headed to the Christmas markets in the heart of downtown. As we walked around enjoying it all, it slowly dawns on me, no one is talking or texting on a cell phone. Not. one. single. person. We had been on two long subway rides and now were in a big crowd of hundreds of people. This happened in Munich, Nurenburg, Prague and Vienna. I started really looking for the arm cocked up to the ear and the loud, obnoxious talking... out of 12 days I might have seen/heard 6 people on cell phones.
You know me, I had to get to the bottom of this. After talking to some locals in all the cities I realized that cell phones are expensive, the people I talked to said phones were seen as for "emergencies" and another person I talked to said that they (Austrians) think that it is more important to talk to the person that you are with than to be on a phone with someone else. This person also commented that chatting endlessly on the phone was very "American" and it made it easy to not have to listen or pay attention. I had to think on that one for a while. But she's right. How many times do I call people for the last directions to their home instead of listening the first time. I never walk out of the house on my way to the grocery store without telling my husband " I have my phone in case you think of anything else". Why can't we just "think" now? Why can't I remember where people are going or what they might be doing instead of that usual phone call of : "whatchadoin'" or worse, "where are you?". It became so clear to me the other night that
Am I giving up my cell phone? No. I am giving up using it as a crutch. I am making plans and sticking to them. I'm going to listen to directions, people's plans, I'm going to remember what I tell people and I am going to try to be more patient.
The American infection. The American sickness. That's how several different people from several different countries described the influence of American culture and capitalism. I realized that I am a trained consumer, my thoughts about my purchases in Europe were dictated by getting a *good deal* on something *unique*. Not on quality, utility, durability or, heaven forbid, necessity. Just looking at the attitudes toward Christmas gift giving the second I got back home - those people are right - we are sick. (please feel free to disagree) A few years ago I helped a co-worker pair up "secret Santa" for her church womens group. (for the record I hate secret santas but that should surprise no one). I was appalled, appalled I tell you, that under the hobbies section of the questionnaire people wrote: shopping. Really? That's a hobby?
I would argue that I'm not a huge consumer, but my bank account would argue otherwise. 2010 is going to be the year of doing, not consuming. For so long it's been hard to do lots of creative things because of the kids but it's always easy to buy supplies and sometime just looking at a stack of fabric or a blank canvas gives me the idea that I have done something. That, my friends is a lie. Doing something is doing something. Buying something is just preparing to do something.
My goal is to be out of supplies by Jan 1. 2011.
Good night what kind of weirdness is going to be made. I can't wait.
I have nebulous ideas for keeping it real in 2010. That one scares Jonathan. He thinks I'm real enough!
Next up: Back to our regularly scheduled photo-heavy programming.