10 Minutes – “What Can’t You Live Without?”

In the 0750-0800 weekday window, I typically watch the History or Biography Channel while I eat breakfast, and today I came across an episode called “Can You Live Without Designer Labels?”.

It is an interesting thesis. What if you take the most important thing that one cannot live without and put the person on withdrawal from that very thing for 3 weeks? Supposedly, it is said that one can make or break a habit in just 21 days. Can it really be that easy?

Apparently the Biography Channel folks must have thought otherwise and came up with such a series that would make for good TV. The potency of addiction and reliance cannot be underestimated even for something as frivolous as designer labels. It is almost like facing a boggart in one of Harry Potter’s spell classes. What is your boggart? If faced with a shape-shifting creature that will take on the form of your worst fear when you open the locked cupboard to release it, what will you see?

For this particular Ackerley family, appearance means everything and that equates to piling their lives with designer labels. To strip away all that from their lives was almost like making them go naked in public. Feelings of shame overtook them.

In the 10 minutes window, they wore sweatshirts and pants, shopped at Tesco and have to wear “dowdy cheap” clothes to the designer stores that they often frequented and where they are likely to bump into people they know. The males had to drive a white Mondeo to a racing event where they normally were the centre of attention with their fancy cars.

Mr Ackerley cheated on the challenge by wearing his expensive shoes, gold Rolex watch, sneaking out for a Clarins massage and buying a Versace tie on the last day. His wife and daughter were suitably upset with his weakness in discipline and willpower. Mrs Ackerley broke down on the last day when she couldn’t stand the thought of the truckload of stored away designer goods that were making their way back into their house, and into their lives. A week later, she donated half of her designer possessions to charity.

Mr Ackerley remarked something along the lines that if he had to continue living the way he did in this challenge, he doesn’t see any value in living. In other words, he found a life without designer labels to be pathetic and unworthy. Designer labels defined his identity and fulfilled his life.

People like to say, to each his own. Maybe… yes. Probably no.

I can understand the appeal of well-designed consumer goods. I am typing this post on an iMac.

I just wish Mr Ackerley and others like him can one day be moved to contemplate more deeply on the meaning of their lives in a world that sees around 25,000 people die daily of hunger or hunger-related causes.

Each of us living do not deserve any more right to continue breathing than those lives that ceased. Let us not squander nor waste the grace and blessing to be alive each day.

Apart from thinking over what you can’t live without, think carefully about what you are and should be living for.

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