Consuming vs Creating: finding clarity at Costco

The other morning I had a bit of a crisis about my writing and my purpose. With red eyes and the sort of lethargy which comes from a morning spent sobbing on the bed in my bath towel, I tagged along with a friend on a shopping trip in an attempt to shut down my pity party.

First, we hit a few flea markets, which I loved. From old baby strollers to sofas to artwork, I perused the dusty offerings and wondered about the story behind each piece.

Stacks of identical chairs towered in one corner of the warehouse; the remnants of someone’s failed restaurant or hotel dream.

Hot dog

I saw this hot dog cart and briefly considered throwing in the writing business in favour of touring the country with it, ‘Chef’ style. Only I am a crappy cook and vowed never to work in customer service again.

Afterwards we ended up at Costco in Puerto Vallarta. I’d never been before and was a little excited to see what bargains lay inside.

A large round of Brie cheese and a huge tub of hummus sat in the bottom of my gigantic cart as I pushed it down the aisle.

Turns out there really wasn’t much that I needed, let alone wanted, except of course, CHEESE.

I felt like I had failed to live up to Costco’s expectations of ‘buy hard or go home’.

Then I came across this.

shoe rack

A shoe rack.

A rack for your shoes.

I had a flashback to the days when shoe racks were a rather important item to me. I needed a rack, several actually, to house all my shoes, most of which I hardly wore.

I looked at this storage rack for shoes like an alien thing. A frantic feeling rose up in me as I remembered my previous attempts to organize, store and accumulate products, back when I had a job, an apartment and deep well of discontent within me which I tried to fill with ‘stuff’.

I was a total consumer back then and it gave me such an empty feeling. There was never enough stuff or storage to hold said stuff to make me feel complete. I think that was the whole idea, actually.

Standing in Costco with a near-empty cart and a lack of desire for anything in the mega-store, I remembered something I’ve known for a while.

I wasn’t born to simply consume. I was born to create.

Suddenly my existential crisis about my purpose seemed like a pretty good one to be having, compared to my old ones of how I would organize my shoes.

I was immediately grateful that my big problem of the day was questioning how I can best Show Up in the world in order to help others feel more connected, rather than how to assemble a shoe rack with a damn Allen key.

I realised then that no matter what doors may open or close for me, I’ll continue creating things I think will move me closer to my vision (however hazy it may be) because it’s this process by which I am transformed.

And perhaps my only purpose is to grow more and more into the person I was created to be, while encouraging others to do the same.


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Consuming vs Creating: finding clarity at Costco — 26 Comments

  1. Sarah, I think you’ve nailed it! It’s all about growing, ourselves, and supporting others in their growth. The experiences you share help others understand their own experiences and growth. So many others that write about spiritual growth write as if they know it all, but really how could they. It’s a struggle our entire lives to grow and do better. The moment we think we are “there,” it’s a clear indication that we’re not. I love your motto, “Just show up!” You lead by example. You’re doing a fabulous job and a great service to all of us. Thank you!

    • Thank YOU Pennie, for your support, your encouragement and for this comment which I appreciate so much. I can’t express how much it helps me in my work (and my life) moving forward. And THAT is how it works; learning from each other by continuing to show up. Much love to you!

  2. Ahhhhh, the beloved shoe racks. Of course we need multiples, because everyone knows we cannot live our best lives without hundreds of pairs of shoes! Hahaa! I totally get this (as you well know) and have felt the need to over-consume my whole life! I love the freedom that comes with not needing more ‘stuff’ – it’s liberating in such an unexpected way! It’s fun parting with things. I might even let go of my Sam’s club and Costco memberships since I don’t even have a permanent residence now! (Yes, I had BOTH memberships… Cuz one just wasn’t enough right?!?) Just in the past 5 years have I started to recognize that the big, black, gnawing hole in my life cannot be filled with things or food. Still learning, still adjusting, still applying new lessons. Slowly but surely, I’m finding my best self, without all of the excess.
    Keep creating, sister Sarah! You inspire us all.
    holly recently posted..i’ll keep writingMy Profile

    • You are well on your way, learning and teaching others as you go. It’s not an easy process but a worthwhile one and I am so excited for the journey which lies ahead for you Sister! xxx

    • Hey Tim! It is certainly a novelty for us Aussies! Yes, I am such a boring shopping buddy these days as I just don’t get much enjoyment out of it. Occasionally I buy something which I wear or use religiously and which I get a lot of use out of. It’s been a natural evolution of living this lifestyle, but it suits me fine :-)

  3. Ah – your first Costco experience. Costco is work for me as I make a Costco run every week when we’re in high season at the B&B. I often wonder at the vastness of the products in the store, but mostly I’m all about getting in and getting out as fast as I can. I know which day to go, what time to go and I can usually blow through in under an hour, which is really quick for the substantial amount of product I load. But, there is one thing that makes me pretty sad – not so much about Costco but consumerism in general and Costco and other similar stores are right there at the head of the line encouraging people to BUY BIG or go home. And the fast food counter for a hot dog and a soda for $1.50 just fuels the fire so-to-speak and I don’t mean to be judgmental but each week the people I see eating the $1.50 giant hot dog followed by a big cup of frozen yogurt washed down with a couple of sodas, are not people who are shall we say healthy and fit enough to be eating such things. Costco has great deals, don’t get me wrong, and they have an incredible return policy. If we need a television or electronic equipment, it’s the only place we buy from, but the push push push to over buy, over eat, over spend just grosses me out. My weekly Costco runs will end in a few weeks from now and I won’t miss them. I’m sure we will continue to shop at Costco but it will be at a much saner pace. And yes, how many shoes do we really need? I just packed ours today. :)
    Patti recently posted..It Was Meant to Be ~My Profile

    • Hey Patti! Yes, why do we humans struggle with the concept of moderation so much? It’s always eluded me, although I am definitely moving into more of a balanced life, I think. I know this whole journey has permanently transformed my relationship to money and consumerism and for that I am grateful. I guess if you don’t know though, you don’t know, right? I am sure you will experience a similar level of freedom with your upcoming move; shedding the old for the new (once the stress and hassle of the transition is over that is). All the best with your next steps! xxx

  4. I just went to Costco here in Canada yesterday with a friend, and it was my first time in there after 2 years living in Central America. It was totally overwhelming, and as he filled up his cart with ‘stuff’ I felt the same thing you did. Although I can’t write about it as well :)
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Roatan Month 25 RoundupMy Profile

    • Firstly, you write beautifully Rika! Secondly, it sounds like you are experiencing some of that lovely reverse culture shock :-) It’s so weird isn’t it? We are heading to the states and Canada next and while I am really looking forward to the change (and the variety of food!) it will be interesting to see how I handle being back in a Western country! Pretty sure I will be rather overwhelmed with the variety of PRODUCTS available :-)

  5. Whenever I go back to the US, Costco runs bring me great joy for all the food I can eat. Cheese. Mini-quiches… and stocking up on underwear. Now that I’m settled in a house in Saigon, I do find myself accumulating more. I remember back 12 years ago to that period of almost a year, saving up to move overseas, and thinking before every purchase: “Do I REALLY need this?” I think I need to get back to that place. But three cheers for huge wheels of cheap cheese and gigantic tubs of salsa and massive crates of cherries. Hip hip hooray!
    James recently posted..Nothing Hidden, Everything SacredMy Profile

    • Dude, I did not see those mini-quiches otherwise I would have been ALL OVER THEM!!! I do think it’s normal to accumulate when we settle down a bit, I did it in Playa as we were there for a year, only I didn’t notice until it was time pack! Ouch! I think the thing was I was (once again) trying to fill an emotional hole, and it just doesn’t bloody work for me anymore. I gotta keep moving in the direction of my dreams, because that’s the only thing which has ever filled me up. Except of course, CHEESE. Love ya! xxx

  6. What a great post! I avoid shopping as much as I can, and remember with great fondness the years I lived off the grid with the most meager of possessions… focusing mostly on creating. xo

    • Wow! Thank you Linda. What an honor to have you here! I am enjoying your course and writers group so much. In fact, if I didn’t have this meltdown and subsequent epiphany, I may not have found myself connecting with you and so many other wonderful writers. Your off-grid experience sounds amazing, it would be great to totally unplug and just immerse in the creative process xxx

  7. Nowadays the only time I shop big is when I’m stocking up on boxes of fruit that I turn into the kind of bursts of energy I used to dream of. :)

    Any of those huge superstores kind of freak me out, it’s trippy how people could need all that crap! I’m glad you had a moment of clarity there though – isn’t it hilarious how the Universe picks the most unglamorous locations to give us a sacred epiphany.
    Karyn @ Not Done Travelling recently posted..How To Escape The Crowds On Phi Phi LehMy Profile

    • That is awesome Karyn! They sure had a lot of fruit there but it was all imported and considering the amount of fresh produce dripping off the trees here it just didn’t feel right.

  8. Wow, shoe racks. They are like the little manicure kits that I used to get at Christmas. Something in them that creates a feeling of nostalgia for the past where people say “life was easier”. What is that about? This is the easiest my life has ever been. Today,I know that I get the gift to live in the moment and the grace to be grateful for that moment. I can buy or not buy or create or not create and still be loved.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing this insight. It is so easy to simply follow the road everyone we see around us is following, and never check in with ourselves if it is really what we want to do. Creating turns out to be infinitely more interesting than just buying more stuff, right?
    My wife and I finally came to that conclusion (after a gentle shove from universal forces) and sold all our belongings over a year ago. Now we are free to travel, explore and create. Following our own path has proven to be so much fun!
    Neil recently posted..Chronology of a House Sit: Saying FarewellMy Profile

    • That is fantastic Neil! I agree, following the path which is right for you is so, so important for a fulfilled life. I wish you and your wife many wonderful adventures as you create the life of your dreams! :-)

  10. Hi Sarah, it’s amazing that someone can have a profound sense of clarity at Costco at all places. I love it! I have not stepped into Costco at all! Have no desire. I just don’t get it, the extreme consumerism that is. Why do people feel the need to fill their houses with toilet paper? It’s sad that a lot of people find self-worth in being big “consumer” rather than finding it within. I’m glad that your Costco trip heightened your sense of purpose to create, to inspire others.

    • Hi Marisol! Right?? I was curious… part of me thought my emotional upset could be cured by buying toilet paper in bulk, ha! :-) But I was just reminded of how much I have changed. Now stillness and reflection is how I now weather emotional storms xoxo