x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

My Life: are possessions just clutter?

Sometimes life's greatest satisfactions come from what we already have.

I'm not a fan of clutter and yet I am myself a lifelong clutterer. I admit it.

All my life I have yearned for that effortless, organised existence that seemed to come so easily to my peers whether at school or at home.

My sisters kept their books and stuff in orderly conduct while my things were all over the place.

I missed countless appointments, forgot to study for important exams and failed to turn in assignments on their due dates. I misplaced the valuable and the inane, and angered so many so much that they thought I was a hopeless case.

I still walk into a room and forget what it was I wanted there. I often mime to myself the thing that I wish to do or the item that I seek so as to enforce the idea in my head.

It's therefore a dream of mine that everything I own can fit into a suitcase or, better yet, a leather satchel. This is my idea of romance - to be so simple and clearheaded so that the sun's beams would fall without objection upon a plain, clean floor.

Today we are always pushed to acquire so many things. How many make-up kits or perfumes does a woman need, anyway? Or how about the variety of tops, skirts and trousers? Does it really matter if an item is from "last season" or from a certain designer?

Will I carry my self-worth in a watch or a bracelet or a phone? What if my earthly belongings were destroyed in a fire? Would I lose my sense of self-worth?

I used to have a friend at university who told how she browsed through a furniture catalogue and admired a certain item. Her relative peered at it and sniffed that she liked it only because it was "cheap".

Conversely, a friend of my sister said her relatives pressured her into wasting thousands of dirhams on designer handbags because they found it embarrassing to be seen with anything less.

Then there's the girl who would interrogate a potential friend about her designer items to figure out if they were fake or original; only if they were genuine would she be deemed worthy of her companionship.

This is the sort of thinking that gets our younger generation deeply in debt at the start of their 20s. It's not a miracle to live life free of pressure or worry. One doesn't need a new Bentley or Range Rover to go from Point A to Point B in Abu Dhabi.

Or how about the newest Apple product? Whoever said the iPad was just a bigger iPhone wasn't kidding. And yet people will still go out to acquire it. Throughout the year newer editions will be released - a different colour of the same product or a slightly upgraded version that can hardly be distinguished from its forerunner.

Given society's focus on materialism, there will always be pressure to get the newer, better, faster version of what we might already own.

I'd like to dream that I can live with the basic necessities of life. I'd like to think that the most precious things I own will be with me wherever I go - that my love for God, my country, my family and humanity at large will always keep me grounded and satisfied with my lot in life.

I've given birth to another baby boy this month and I don't need an advertisement to tell me what it is my life lacks or might be heightened by.

All I desire is already right here, right now and I could not be any happier.

 

Iman Ali is an Emirati graduate in English Literature from Zayed University. Raised in Scotland, she is living once more in Abu Dhabi, where she is writing The Great Emirati Novel.