Friday, November 23, 2012

What Happens When You Get Fed Up

 [image:  none today, to allow you to form images in your mind as you read the poem.]

I wrote this poem in 2000 when the consumer culture was going strong.  At that time, Adbusters fostered the idea of international Buy-Nothing Day as a protest on the day after Thanksgiving.  That year, the theme was "Enough."  As in, you already have what you need.  I was a fairly recent convert to Buddhism at the time, and this theme of cultivating contentment in simplicity seemed to be basic dharma.  These days I think of it as cultivating equanimity rather than desire.  Those with something to sell have done their best this year to get everyone into the stores crazed with a frenzy for bargains.  I am pleased to see Adbusters is still at it, promulgating Buy-Nothing Xmas now. (link) 

              (A Utopia)
            By Jeanne Desy
One year, children, everyone got fed up . . .
and stopped buying.
Nobody went to the mall that year,
nobody went to WalMart or
ate fast food or frozen pizza,
flew on a plane, bought a CD.
The economy came to a halt.

Unemployment rose to 50 percent.
The people who liked to work found work
and the rest stayed home with the kids.
Everyone planted gardens,
and cooked their own food
and cleaned their own houses,
everyone did their own laundry,
washed their own cars in the summer twilight. 
People wore slippers around the house.

The market declined for designer shoes,
theme parks and day care, acrylic nails
and Prozac, cellphones and pagers. 
Ringing and beeping tapered off, and
the air was spacious and quiet.
Nobody played the lottery, couldn’t afford to,
and no one bought guns. 
There was not much to steal anymore,
and not much to fight over now.
Everyone had enough to eat
and a roof over their heads.
That seemed to be what mattered.

The tax base eroded—there was
no money for missiles now, no money for war.
Young men stayed home and tended gardens.
Old men designed wonderful toys,
grandmas made biscuits and everyone learned to sew.
Happiness blossomed, addictions declined,
no money for drugs now,  anyway nothing to escape.
People grew their own catnip and drank tea
made with mint from their gardens,
and ate nastursiums and heirloom tomatoes.

Without ads, the TV went quiet.
There were no celebrities now,
everyone made their own music
with home-made drums and ancient guitars,
and told the old stories and wrote poems
with pencil on paper and read them out loud
over the breakfast table.   Factories closed.

The planet cooled, the air cleared.
You could see the stars. 
Wildflowers grew where there had been lawns,
rabbits came back to the yard, and foxes and owls.
The old folks sat on porches with dogs at their feet,
and shelled peas.  Barefoot women
hung sheets to dry in the sun.
Everyone just took care of themselves
and each other, and
no one was rich anymore, so no one felt poor.
Now that there wasn’t so much,
there was more than enough.
© Jeanne Desy 2000


  1. my heart breathes a contented sigh! what a lovely picture of life!

    1. Thank you - you keep me going. This is the poem, of my many poems, that my daughter loves; she shares its vision of a simple, grounded life.

  2. It's like a vision. I think that's exactly what would happen if people just stopped. Your poem makes me happy!

    1. Thank you. Your comment makes me happy, too. Across the miles.