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!