Thursday, July 01, 2010

Taking your life down a notch ... or twelve

If there is one consistent thing about my life, it has been that it has changed ... a lot.

In some ways, I have done a full circle and just landed right back where it all started.

As a child, we had little. We had so very little. Yet, it just wasn't that big of a deal. There were times that I worked extra hard to buy things off the clearance rack at Express to try to somehow, sorta' keep up with what other people were wearing. Of course, I lived in a tiny town, and we were all a little behind anyway. So, it all seemed to balance out.

During my freshman year of college, I found myself stranded in my hometown, after driving up one night to work a little part time job (if you knew my car, you would understand why). I called a friend from college to pick me up. She came from extreme wealth. I didn't really understand that, at the time. I just didn't pay attention to what people had on, or their car. I mean, it was a car. It was a shirt. It was a purse. Who made it? I didn't know. I didn't really care.

I didn't think twice about driving her around town before we went back. I wanted to show her my old houses and stomping grounds. She was mortified. She was actually disgusted and mortified. I'll never forget the look on her face when she said, "You said you were poor, but I didn't know ... like you were THIS poor."

I didn't know either. Even after she said it, I didn't know! I couldn't see what she was seeing.

Fast forward to my early married days. My husband and I started to go out on one outlandish date a month. No kids. No sitter to pay. Just blowing money on overpriced food and pretentious atmospheres. I had two different jobs during those early days where my bosses had a lot of money and a lot of prestige. So, I rode a lot of coattails into meetings at the finest places in town. I helped to set up the brunches at the homes of the infamously wealthy. So, yeah, I was throwing away trash at the end of the function, but I got to be a part of it. I started to get a little lost in it. I started to want it.

I started to actually think about whether or not my brows lined up or my toenails had fresh polish or my heels were ashy or roots were touched up. I paid attention to whether or not the heels of my basic black boots were square or pointy (depending on what was "in" that year). Oh GAWWWWWD, I did. I can recall the day that I looked back on my former life with disdain, almost feeling proud that I had "escaped it."

Escaped what? Escaped a relaxed pace? Escaped true relationship over status? Escaped happiness?

I have since found my way back. In fact, we worked our way backward (what we see as truly "forward") on purpose. I am embarrassed remembering some of the thoughts I once had, and some of the wasted energy and stress. It was truly all for naught.

"And that's the thing about consumption: It's essentially a myopic, self- centered pastime. Addictive consumption submerges our concerns about ourselves, others, and the Earth. The things we buy and use become extensions of ourselves; we use them mindlessly, with little awareness of why." - John R. Ehrenfeld (from "Feeding the Beast")

It was so freeing to look the beast right in the face and say, "I created you. I don't need you. In fact, you do not make my life better. You make my 'better' appear not good enough. It's a lie. Off with you, beast! I feed you no more!"

Yes, I actually said that, right before dramatically touching my corset and walking away with my petticoats bustling behind me.

You get the idea, despite my sarcasm.

May you spend your summer days choking out your beast, finding freedom from that which you allow to enslave you. Off with its head!


Misty said...

This is so good, and so true. It's pretty easy to get swept up in that... Though our details were different, we got caught up in a social scene that left our lives looking pretty designer while they felt incredibly empty. We too walked backwards (or forward...) and came full circle. I still feel compassion for those friends we left behind, who now look down on us and our seeking less.

Nobody said...

I was just so happy today, when my hubby crawled under our doublewide, to string phone lines, so I can have two phones. One in the distant family room, and one right outside my bedroom/bathroom, so I don't have to run, and still miss calls. The phones were hand-me-downs, and all the supplies we scavenged, and at the end of it all we felt so darned luxurious. Last night we basked in the glow of the "new" Ikea under cabinet lights, that we scavenged for free from someone's barn. Life in the slow lane is pretty good, and having less isn't the same as being poor.

Jessica Lynn said...

can I please quote you on this, the part about feeding the beast? I'll credit you for it of course?

Summer said...

Isn't it weird the way these things go in circles? The me 10 years ago would be horrified. I'm so proud. LOL

Mama Drama Times Two said...

So glad to hear you tell the tale of finding your way back and fending off the beast. After reading your posts I often feel the way I do after hearing a good sermon on Sunday mornings - hopeful, confident and ready to tackle the next big challenge coming my way. Thanks.

Integrity Singer said...

gurl, from one poor gal to a next, ain't poor blessedly sweet? lmao

top this: my first bra came from a second hand bag some good Samaritan dropped off at our front door because we were poor and always in need. we kind of became the clearing house for cast of clothing. Guess who hasn't had to buy clothing for her children? ME! That's who. Because I've inadvertently become the clearing house for cast of clothing ...

btw, do any of your kids need clothes? My storage closet is over flowing again. gawd, I just purged the dang thing two months ago. where DOES it all come from?!?! lmao


thanks for reminding me that poor rocks the house.

Unknown said...

Jess, sure.

Annie said...

Grew up middle class, but VERY, VERY simply so. My folks spent money at the rate of the very poor. We didn't have vacations or any special "stuff" - no movie camera, or fancy car, no cool furniture. I had a couple of new dresses a year...and I NEVER thought about money at all. In fact, my folks urged me to have a summer job in HS and I nearly had a panic attack! I wanted TIME, I wanted FREEDOM; I wanted to draw, to walk, to read!!!! What was I getting at the job??? Money! Who the heck wanted that????!!!

I did end up buying a few antiques with it, a table/desk/bookcase/rocker (strange child) and those are the nicest pieces of furniture we have now. How funny is that?

Threads of Light said...

I consider the years I was 'poor' as the richest I ever had.
We have more spending power now, but aren't any happier than we were when we had nothing. In fact I think everyone is better for having had next to nothing at some times in their lives.

Paul said...