Friday, June 18, 2010

Quality of (Island) Life

If happiness is largely found by choosing to be happy, then quality of life should follow this choice right? My thinking is that if you are happy, then it would imply that you find your quality of life is sufficient…but then I can’t help thinking of the Lucianism “It good so gassan” meaning, really, that even though the speaker knows full well that whatever it is, isn’t really good, they’re prepared to settle for it as is – pretend that they’re happy with it…and that’s usually because they can’t be bothered to make the effort to change it for the better.

So. When we choose to be happy are we sometimes choosing to turn a blind eye, to be a bit like Reality TV…a bit unreal? I know that the happiness choice is a bit more deep than all that, but I can’t help but think of this gremlin-sibling of happiness we seem to be adopting in St. Lucia.
Last Saturday I spent yet another better part of my day, searching town for this and that - clothes, housewares, food…I didn’t go for brand name specifically, because I wanted cheaper things as like a lot of us, I’m on a budget. But I did want some quality – what I wanted were cheaper prices and decent quality. You see, for me, I don’t need brand name to be happy…I have particular tastes in clothes, housewares, food…life, anyway so I tend to shop around – a particular logo on the label is not sufficient to make me happy…it has to ‘speak’ to me. But all the speaking I was hearing from the things I looked at today was “de lady, I good so gassan”…St. Lucia, what are we doing?
Store after store – cheap back street and showy main-street…too many bad quality products at crazy prices! I don’t mind having to search a bit for the gems in the midst of the garbage, but mesye! Like we importing things just to send them direct to the landfilll?!?
Clothes that no part of them is made well, not the material, not the buttons, not the zips, not the seams, not the hems – the pattern pieces on one side don’t match those on the other…and these sell for EC$30, 40, 50..seriously??? They must cost only cents to buy… and my question is, why are they allowed in to the island at all? I’m guessing we don’t have a standard for clothing? You know, nothing demanding, maybe like “the seams shouldn’t come apart if you breathe on the thing too hard.” It’s not that the price for a piece of clothing is high – those prices are pretty ok I think, it’s just that I’d like to get a piece of clothing for the price and not just a rag.
The plastics are not much different…some of them fall apart if you only pick them up off the shelf too fast. Is it just me, or after a few weekss do your clothes pegs end up stuck on the line with one arm amputated so you can’t open them to take them off? Used to be you could pick up a clock at some cheap stores and have at least fair faith that you would not be late for work…from what I saw on offer, I might miss a whole morning of work if I relied on those pieces of roughly put together paper and plastic to tell me the time.
And don’t talk for food. Ok, well, one good thing happened that day – I passed through Castries Market and was pleased to see it so full and even more pleased when some pretty red peppers caught my eye and the vendor didn’t even hesitate to give me a ‘local’ price (not the tourist price my skin usually solicits)…I bought two bags and they were every bit as sweet as she said they were.

But that unfortunately is too often not the scene in most every supermarket – wilted, bruised, cut, and otherwise poorly veg and fruit stays taking up ALL the space on the shelves with not a sign of a sale price tag in sight….sometimes you have to wonder if even 1gram of vitamin remains in these sad limp things and you’d swear by the price tag that they’re gourmet organic beauties fresh from the farm.
Ahhh. Despite my best efforts I couldn’t choose to be happy that day. It affected my whole emotional balance. Here I am setting my sights on carving out a quality life – not one defined by price tags, one defined by happiness - but this and other recent ventures into the belly of this island’s shopping have managed to carve a big set of potholes in my path.
It’s been a visual, tangible, taste-able eye-opener, and St. Lucia, we need to wake up…we’re drowning ourselves in a big pile of….
Is it just us, or is it the world? Choosing to be happy is a good thing if done right…choosing to settle for all kinds of garbage…’Sa pas bon mesye’ it ehn good so at all gassan.

I can't be the only one thinking this...what's your experience in St. Lucia or overseas?