Thursday, October 11, 2012
How Much is Enough?
If you are expecting a triathlon or family post we will be returning to those programs next time so feel free to skip over this one if its a little too introspective...( see this is what happens in the off season - too much time on my hands to ponder life's conundrums)
How much is enough?
I have been pondering this question a lot this week.
Living in a capitalist society the answer seems to be that too much is never enough. There is never a time where you get to the stage where you have enough - there is always something newer, better, faster, shinier. ALWAYS.
Cars are a good example. I drive a 10 year old suburban. I love my car. She has taken my family and I on so many adventures, from the mundane trips to soccer practice, to vacations to national parks, cities and towns all over the Pacific NW. But recently she has become a tad unreliable. My husband, as a result of being burnt once too many times by auto mechanic bills and in an attempt to be frugal, has taken on the car servicing and repair himself. I would have to say it has become a bit of a hobby for him. And that is good. I want him to have a hobby. But last weekend my hand brake ( or emergency brake or parking brake...whatever you people call it) broke. Just snapped clean off. I moaned about it to my husband and he got right on it. Ordered the part but it wouldn't be in for a week. So in the interim he told me he would make a short term fix so I could still use my car and it would not roll away if I parked on a hill.
I got in my car for the first time on Monday after said makeshift repair only to find a bit of rope connected under my steering wheel which I had to apparently pull to release the brake. That's right. I had myself a hillbilly handbrake. We laughed about it but in my mind I was thinking...I NEED a new car.
Later that day the boys asked me about getting new Halloween outfits. I won't lie. Halloween is my least favorite holiday followed closely by Valentines Day. It seems that its all about overabundance. Having not grown up in a country where Halloween is celebrated I find it a pointless exercise. I know...I sound like a Debbie downer but before you judge me you should know I am a HUGE Christmas fan. It has religious significance to me and its also a time where family comes first. For those 2 reasons alone I think Christmas is the bomb. But Halloween....too much candy ( most of which gets thrown away) and a costume that gets worn for an hour and then discarded. Seems just wasteful to me.
There have been a number of other things this week that have highlighted this kind of lavish excess. And I have to tell you my biggest concern is my children. How do I teach them that by saying no to some of their requests that I am actually doing them a favor. They certainly don't think so. They look at others and can't help but compare. I try to teach them that having "things" won't make them happy, it won't satisfy them because there will always be something better that comes along. They will want to discard the thing they once coveted for the next new thing. My getting them all they want will actually create the desire in them for more. In the end it won't make them better, kinder people and as a parent that is my job. To help them be the best person they can be.
Matt and I have always thought that experience trumps possessions. We have always chosen to take our children places, let them experience new things, new food, meet new people, let them see, feel and taste how other people live, in the hopes that this internal comparison will not only better prepare them to be global citizens ( which they will be thanks to dual citizenship ) but will also help them make decisions about what is important and what they really need to be happy in life. Recent events have made me aware that life is way too short....and I am certain that no-one lies on their death bed wishing that they had never gotten out and seen the world. They would have preferred to buy that new car instead.
So this afternoon I am going to drop my boys at soccer and pick my daughter up from Marching band practice. And I will be happily driving my 10 year old car with the hillbilly handbrake. Because it occurred to me that all the lessons I want to impart to my children start with me. I am the example. Being truly happy with what I have.
Maybe one day my suburban will finally give up and refuse to go on. And then I guess I will get another car but in the meantime I have enough.
I have an abundance.
Hopefully my children will see that they have too!