Shopping As an Act of Optimism

It’s sale season, and that means each time I sit down at my computer I’m bombarded by urgent messages to take advantage of every markdown.

Buy now! Going fast! Last chance!

As I was feeling vaguely annoyed by all the hysteria, it occurred to me that shopping is a profound act of faith. One that has nothing to do with the economy.

Please bear with me.

We buy last season’s markdowns in the belief that we’ll be around to wear them next year.

We buy for the person or size we aspire to be.

We buy for the happy occasion in our future that we plan to attend.

We buy maternity clothes much too early; shoes that await a dinner invitation; the house where we hope to grow old.

Whether we’re shopping for something big or small – the car we plan to keep until it hits 50,000 miles or the coat we buy in October when it won’t be cold until January – it’s with an unspoken confidence that we’ll remain in good health long enough to enjoy it.

Call it our bargain with the universe.

On a rational level, we know we can’t always control our future. But isn’t there something wonderfully hopeful about acting as though we can?

I’ve been thinking a lot about a friend of a friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I don’t really know her or what she’s going through but I imagine she’s a lot more focused on actual therapy than on retail therapy.

Still, along with doctor visits, chemo, radiation and all the serious things she has to worry about, I wish she’d do a little shopping.

Not because she necessarily needs a new dress or sexy sandals right this minute. But because I’m optimistic that she’ll be wearing those summer splurges next year, and the summer after that.

And I hope she is, too.

That’s what “shoptimism” is all about.

2 thoughts on “Shopping As an Act of Optimism

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