A Season Of Austerity

The parking lots are unusually empty.
It’s a Saturday afternoon – a time when you would think many people would be out and about doing their weekend errands.
But they are not.
Even the roads seem unusually quiet. Un-busy.
At the grocery store, a pleasant surprise to find it not too crowded.
Again, a Saturday afternoon – a time when you would think many people would be out getting their weekly groceries.
But no.
Something has changed.
There is something tangible in the air.
A palpable sense of quietness.
Of holding back.
Of austerity.
People are hunkering down and making do with what they have.
They are coccooning themselves, withdrawing into the safety of their cozy homes and condos, waiting out the storm.
The storm of inflation.
Of high prices.
Of empty store shelves.
There are whispers that we are on the verge of a recession.
Don’t even utter that word.
For if we manifest it, it may become so.
I am not even sure what a recession is.
Economics was never my strong suit.
But I do know what inflation is.
And I know we are in the midst of that.
Grocery prices are sky high.
So is gasoline, still hoving around $1.50 a litre.
I saw a cartoon in the newspaper the other day in which a man was at the grocery store checkout where a sign over his head said “8 items maximum.” He said, “Who can afford 8 items?” That hit the nail right on the head.
There is a sense that we are having to make do with what we have.
Because if you have what you need, you have enough.
If you don’t have what you want, you don’t need it.
We are being forced to make do.
Something generations before us have always done.
And it is a tough and difficult lesson in these days of consumptive excess; consumerism and retail therapy; of buying what we want because we think it will make us happier.
(BTW, studies have shown that purchasing for pleasure does make us happy – but only for about three days.)
Perhaps this will be good for us.
And it is an interesting turn of events.
The pandemic was a forced saving measure.
Debt load decreased around the world for a period of about two years.
And now, we are spending like crazy.
To the point where there is not enough supply out there for our ravenous appetites.
We have created our own inflationary monster.
A cruel twist.
But a good one, ultimately, I believe.
For it will force us to rethink what really matters.
Having enough. Having what you need.
Making do. Taking a deep dive into rethinking what we want.
A sobering time.
And one that will ultimately make us all better off for it, I hope and believe.
A tightening of our belt buckles and choosing to be happy and grateful because we have a roof over our heads and food on the table.
A season of austerity.

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