I met a friend for lunch last weekend at the Orange County super luxury Mall-to-the-Stars, South Coast Plaza. I was early so I wandered the stores for an hour or so. As a fashion designer it’s my job to shop the stores and know what’s going on but I was completely unprepared for the mayhem at South Coast Plaza on a hot August holiday weekend.
First it took me almost half an hour to find a parking spot. The whole mall was crowded. Not with college students enjoying the air conditioning with their slim Forever 21 bags, but with women and men bustling from store to store with multiple shopping bags on their arms.
I was astounded. I usually go out on weekdays to shop for work when I am the only one in the store and numerous employees circle around me catering to my every whim, so to see exactly the opposite was unnerving.
The most disturbing part of my experience for me, however, was the display directly outside the Rolex store. There was a sculpture of cans of food associated with a Cat in the Hat campaign to collect food for the Orange County Food Bank.
Again, this display was directly outside the Rolex store. As I stood in front of the sculpture I turned my head to the left and saw people inside the Rolex store perusing watches worth tens of thousands of dollars. I then turned my head to the right to see evidence of the people of Orange County’s generosity to help people who need assistance satisfying one of the primary human needs, putting food on the table.
To the left, opulence, luxury, and greed. To the right, alleged compassion, generosity, and kindness. The ultimate contrast, the classic tale of the Haves and the Have-Nots.
I met my friend at a swanky restaurant and enjoyed lush appetizers and a fabulous glass of wine and contemplated the question-
Hey! What am I? Am I a Have or a Have-Not???
Admittedly I’ve never needed food from a food bank. I’ve also never owned or been in a position to buy a Rolex. But I certainly wasn’t out of place in the Mall-to-the-Stars and I was quite comfortable with my happy hour half price glass of sparkling rose’ champagne.
For most of my life I’ve felt like a Have-Not. I spent my entire twenties and thirties watching the Haves and wondering what it must be like.
But really, what does being a “Have” mean for someone on a spiritual pursuit? It’s no longer about hoarding material goods or having the most money in your bank account. So what is it about, really? Is it about having the most friends? Is it about having the right kinds of friends? Is it about knowing yourself? Is it about being comfortable with yourself?
I don’t have the answers to these questions today. I think it’ll be a process, navigating my position as a Have or a Nave-Not in this new landscape- this landscape independent of the financial markers I’ve used all my life.
I AM certain, however, that whether I am a Have or a Have-Not, I will find ways in my life to be of service to those who truly need my help. Often that has little or nothing to do with money.