2/27/07

Living More By Living With A Little Less

I took Jess' advice, and have started reading "Middlesex". I had to put Barack Obama in the bathroom book bin for now. I'm not in a clear enough state of mind to really give that book it's fair shake.

I'm in the very beginning stages of the book and I'm already enthralled as to where this thing is going to proceed. And it just so happens that the chapters I have just finished have coincided with something that has been rattling around this noggin of mine. I'm going to attempt to tackle this in a somewhat clear, lucid manner. We'll see how it goes.

This thought started the other day when talking to a friend of mine about the people that she services at the preschool that she owns. The preschool that Gracie attends. The preschool that I previously worked at. In fact, think for a second what I'm saying.....preschool. It operates for 3 1/2 hours a day. That's it. This is not a daycare. It's a preschool. A preschool where 98% of the mothers are stay at home moms. Stay at home moms that have bodies I would die to have. Dress like they have no budget. Stay at home moms who drive vehicles that most P.I.M.P.'s would love to own. Homes that probably would take Rav's whole monthly salary to heat in the winter.

That being said, the fact that my friend, who owns the preschool is my BFF, the Godmother to my two babes, my kid goes for free. Aaannnywaaayyy.....

We got to discussing how they appear to take their circumstances for granted. How they are lucky that they get to stay home, to be so fortunate to have all that they have. To which I replied, Well, then, how can one really be grateful? How does one truly act that way? What is it that sets this person apart as being grateful, but another not so much? To which she replied, Well, I think of you I guess. You and Rav are struggling. You don't have a lot for extras. But you are always there to help someone out. You give whatever it is you have. (Jen, if I'm not mistaken, you were tackling this same question a few weeks or more back?) This made me feel embarrassed. But coming from the person I admire so for her giving spirit, her large heart, I took this as a supreme compliment. Granted that, I can always find ways to do more, I do donate to different causes. But seriously, this post is not intended to pat myself on the back....I'm going somewhere with this.

The other day, I was listening to the latest Dixie Chicks album that I just downloaded. And I listened to their song called "I Hope". At one point, the lyrics stating something about 'having more than you could possibly need...'. And this got me thinking back to the original thought..

And today, I'm reading "Middlesex" and these first few chapters being about refugees, fleeing a country with so much death, disaster, and fire. And this thought added to the ones before it.....

I got to thinking about my own grandparents. How hard they worked. How little they had. I got to thinking about my grandparents, and their 6 kids (one of those kids, my mother) living in a 3 bedroom house. A small 3 bedroom house. But does that need to be said? Most 3 bedroom houses are relatively small.....

I got to thinking about the house I currently reside in. 3 bedrooms. And no damned storage space. Barely enough closet space.

People then, Back then did not own the amount of things we find ourselves owning in today's times. They weren't concerned with "things".
I had to do a little research on poverty in America. And what I read was pretty interesting. If you think about poor people in America. Just the average working poor person. And much to my surprise, we don't fall into the "poor" category. But anyway....the average poor home has at least one TV. Quite possibly, a computer. A car. Possibly two.

I think of what people did during WWII, The Great Depression. The struggles.
Like most things, it is what you make of it. What you walk away with on the inside. What you do while you're in it.

I think back to what it was like to be so poor growing up. The things we did without. Eating at my grandmother's house every day. Thinking back to how broken everything seemed to be. How broken everything was. A broken family, a broken mom, a broken kid, a broken car, a broke bank account, broken heaters in broken apartments. Being sent to bed early in your mom's broken bed wearing your coat and hat and mittens. Being sent to bed early because you had so much body heat, you warmed the bed for your mom by the time she wearily crawled into it.
Those broken times made the times I have now with my kids a little sweeter.

Rav & I struggle. Our bank account isn't setting the world on fire. We have it a tad bit better than I did when I was growing up. And my growing up certainly wasn't the worst there was. But it made me who I am today. Those times were times I buried myself in books, in music, in school, in thinking.

I came to the realization that we don't need so much. We may want it. But we don't need it.
I have come to the realization that older generations that have come before me are strong, and colorful, and wise because of struggles. Because of their hard work. Because things weren't easy.
It seems that so many people out there think that they are exempt from a struggle. That everything should be so damned easy. And for some, they somehow miss the struggles. And everything is easy.
But they are at a disadvantage, I think.

I'm not saying struggling means that you need to have a down-trodden attitude. It doesn't mean that you can't be happy. It just means that when you step out of the big mug puddle and are met by another one that is a tad bit smaller, you know that you'll be alright.

I don't know. I may not even be making the point I want to make. I think the point I'm trying to make is: It's OK that neither of our vehicles have DVD players in them. It's OK that "I don't hope for more than I could possibly need or use". All I want is to wake up to my Rav every morning. I want to wake up to Connor & Gracie's stinky, hot breath in my face, giggling. I want to eat breakfast at our hand-me-down dining room table. I want them to understand how good they are doing when they get excited by a toy that costs $.25 at The Goodwill.

The life I have now.
The things I have now.
The man I have now.
The kids I have now.
Are way more than I ever thought I'd have.
And that is seriously all that I ever want.
Anything else is a bonus.
And I need to pass that on.

Maybe this is the way I rationalize our situation.
Maybe not.
Maybe I'm just thinking idealistically - not realistically.
Maybe, inadvertently we're actually on to something.

But if we all just stopped and thought about how much stuff we don't need. That we can live with a little less.
Like so many before us have done.

That we might actually end up having so much more.



"We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures." ~Thornton Wilder


Jen, thank you. It's as if just by your mere presence via computer lines, I healed over enough to say something from my heart.

The artwork was taken from here.

6 ripples in the pond:

deb said...

That was a lovely post Tabba.

I have a plaque in my living room that says "Happiness is wanting what you have." and I try to do that. And not just my stuff but my circumstances and the people in my life.

Pippajo said...

Tabs,

Once again you've hit me right in that tender spot I've been nursing for the past few weeks.

I would say more, but I think it's going to take an entire blog post to do so...

Jon said...

It's like the Rolling Stones said,
"You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you might find
You get what you need"

jen said...

honey, what a terrific post on so many levels. satisfaction with what we have is truly a state of mind, and we are conditioned to think more is more. the older i get i really believe less is more. stuff satisfies no one but the corporatocracy who rams it down our throats.

there is no price on love and family, not on what the really means, and what you so obviously have.

Oh, The Joys said...

What a great post!

I'm screaming the "amens" and "hallelujahs" from your choir!

Joker The Lurcher said...

this is so true, so real. the things that give me the most pleasure are the free things, not the stuff that i buy.