I remember being eight and let loose in Toys R' Us with $20. My grandparents had given my sister and I a fresh $20 bill each for Christmas. We grabbed our shopping carts and went on a shopping rampage. We knew what we wanted. We'd been primed by ads on the Saturday morning cartoons. We'd also done reconnaissance missions and knew ahead of time where things were.
I grabbed a Voice of the Mummy game. I didn't know how it was played. I just knew from the commercial that the game featured a talking mummy and I had to have it!
My sister and I met up at the register comparing our loot! We couldn't believe our luck.
When we got back home we carried our Christmas booty to our rooms. I unwrapped Voice of the Mummy right away. I added the batteries. I pushed the button that made the mummy talk. I was so excited to hear the mummy's voice. I didn't care that I had no idea what the mummy was talking about. I pressed the button a few more times. I was satisfied. I left the game alone.
Initially it was exciting to have all this new stuff. But most of it rarely got used. Even the six foot long rubber snake! Later on I remember looking at all the stuff and feeling full and sickly. It was weird that something I was so excited about could suddenly become so unappealing. But that was too much to bear, so I figured that the problem was I bought the wrong toys. I thought I should have gotten other toys. I didn't see through the mirage yet. But the seed had been sown.
The allure of stuff, whether it be people, things, or activities is powerful. My experience over the years was that it held a lot of promise. "When I get _______, then I'll be okay." I think it took a lot of repeated experiences like the $20 shopping spree to bring home the realization that nothing is going to do it for me.
These days I have a stronger sense of what will fit or not fit in my life. I'm also much less surprised when something I wanted turns out to be not so great.