I’ve stated too often that I’d rather be happy and poor than to be rich and miserable. Or said another way, I’d rather have choices and freedom than any beautiful house, car or luxury. I realize it’s time to update that picture in my head because it’s not an either-or choice. I need money. I want money.
Nowhere else in my life do I let myself off so quickly. In my work, I put in the effort to get it right. With my remodeling or repair of my house, I have some darn high standards. So why would I lower my standards in my finances? There was a point I was trying to make when I first said I’d rather be happy than rich. It goes along with the proverb,
It is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a contentious wife in a lovely home.- Proverbs 25:24
After living with a workaholic for years and longing for his companionship, my twisted logic kicked in. Happiness suggested less money than we had before. It sounds silly I know, but beliefs and life scripts don’t always make sense. I’m no longer in that situation, so I’m updating my knowledge.
It’s a fool’s choice. It’s not real, much like fool’s gold. You have what you have. You either have the money, or you don’t. There are no crossroads to meet the devil on, no trading of your soul for fame and fortune, no genie, no lamp, and no damn lucky rabbit’s foot. Work, rest, enjoy what you have.
Have you seen the movie Hector and the Search For Happiness? Okay, so it may not be for everyone. It’s not like watching Pulp Fiction or Star Wars, but it was interesting. Surprising. Hector’s a psychiatrist and he’s forgotten how to be happy. Typical. And yes the quest for happiness is expected. That’s not why I found it surprising.
There was one scene that supercharged me. Hector is in China and he meets a beautiful girl in the upscale lounge that evening. It’s sexy and seductive. She spends the night, but Hector ends up falling asleep. He asks if she will meet for lunch the next day. As they are sitting in the rough marketplace, she talks about the taboos of her society. As a prostitute, she is no longer allowed to go to her family home. She can no longer see her mother, father or siblings. Hector is shocked because he was referring to the drinking of tea he was witnessing of the other country families in the marketplace. The thing that this woman was not allowed. At just that moment, the girl’s pimp rides up on his motorbike yelling at her. She was purchased for the previous evening only. The girl rides away.
We forget that in our western society we have wrestled to make this not a taboo. Not necessarily regarding prostitution, but shaming any person that is considered an “other.” This is what excited me. That we are still wrestling with it. And we are willing to keep on with the struggle. I am proud of that gumption we have. The tenacity that we have to keep down the tyranny of those that wish to call themselves superior and like to use shame. An “other” is anything that you are not. We are all puny others.
None of us got here, this healthy, this strong, this smart by ourselves. Be thankful and be proud and don’t stop the struggle.
Be thankful for what you have and don’t forget to help someone else. It’s my motto for every day of my life. And I want to always remember that every step upward I take in this life is taken upon the shoulders of another, whether it was a woman suffrage or a soldier on the battlefield or a scientist discovering a cure. None of us got here, this healthy, this strong, this smart by ourselves. Be thankful and be proud and don’t stop the struggle.
Some phrases are forever linked in my mind. Some memories flash as bright as neon lights. Every single time someone makes the statement I’m not having a birthday, I think, I want to grab as many birthdays as I can. I just had another birthday and even though it was a big one I’m not depressed about it. I enjoyed the day talking with my family.
Several years back some friends I knew had a sudden tragedy. The week before the husband had seemed in good health. He’d celebrated his birthday with his wife and stepdaughter and even joked about not growing older. No more birthdays, he’d said. Of course it was all said in jest as he cut the cake and blew out the candles. We all say these things. We don’t mean to stop living. The next week after attending Sunday evening church services, this man and his family went home. He was hungry for a fried egg sandwich. While his wife got the pan and put it on the stove, the man stopped still, and he grabbed his chest. He said he didn’t feel so well. Before the ambulance got to the house, he was dead.
I’m not saying that he caused his death. That’s superstition. People say silly things all of the time. I’m saying that the phrase “No more birthdays” is linked in my thoughts forever to fried egg sandwiches. Every time I cook an egg I remember to be grateful to be alive because on that night he didn’t get to enjoy kissing his stepdaughter goodnight. I remember. She looked lost and sad that night as I sat beside her. Birthdays are for the living, and I’ll take as many as I can get!
Birds in the parking lot freak me out. I stopped at the grocery store on my way home the other day. I was in a rush because I needed to file an insurance claim on my car, pick up a birthday present for my mom, plus it was 100 degrees outside and I only wanted to go home. I’m trying to decide which item to check off on my list first when I see this big-eyed bird staring at me. Correction. Big-eyed-opportunistic-looking bird. He’s watching and waiting.
One lone bird and my thoughts are, why are you here? Of all of the places to be, this is not where I’d pick. There’s a park just 50 feet across the street, but this bird is in the middle of the stinking pavement with chaos and honking cars. Alone. Then I realize, we are similar creatures.
People rarely move far from their birthplace. So before I go judging the bird’s choices, maybe I should take a closer look at my own. Still, this bird looks creepy.
I was reading in a recent More Magazine about how I can add this vest over an ordinary casual/evening dress and make into a work-appropriate dress. Ideas sprouted, budded, and bloomed in my head. How clever, almost, because I had a similar vest and a somewhat similar dress and there was absolutely no freakin’ way that the dress hanging on my door, waiting to be worn, was going out the doorway, on my body. At least not on Monday morning. The light was too bright and the office is the wrong place.
It’s funny how you can sell an idea in a magazine and it seems glossy, perfect, beautiful. It’s like selling an idea in a fancy restaurant. Or convincing someone of marriage. The ring is beautiful. The diamond sparkles. The jeweler takes it out of the show case and the lights hit the cut stone at fracture the light. The girlfriend gasps and the crowd smiles. Yes, she’ll marry you. Who could say no to that? Until 2 years later? Or 1 year? It’s not that either of you have changed. She’s not a monster and neither are you. Both of you are just as beautiful as before.
If you want the dress, if you want the ring, put it in the right light is all I’m saying. I love a good romance and I can fall for them myself and I have. I’ve said too many times, With this car, I’ll keep it spotless. This time, I will vacuum it every weekend. It won’t go a year without waxing it. Right? We make promises. We dream. And we know it will be exactly like we picture. But it won’t.
Dis-contentment is the space between reality and fantasy. We are standing in our jeans and T-shirt with mud on our boots and hanging on our closet door, gathering the dust of neglect is the little black dress we swore we’d wear. There underneath are the shiny black patent leather heels. They are so pretty. You want to wear them, but when? It’s Monday morning and you’re off to work as a veterinary, helping another horse or cow give birth.
Where are you now? What you are doing, right at this very minute, is important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Do it as if you were walking the red carpet. As if you were the president making a critical speech to the nation. Live today.