Welcome to Format Free Fridays at AskDrDarcy.com, the one day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited advice.
Today I want to talk about money, materialism and our society’s endless quest for the acquisition thereof. I know your finger wants to click off the page. Don’t. I’m just like you. I may be worse than you. My love of things is pervasive. EveryThing. I care about details like few others. The water that I drink ~ it never comes from a faucet. And when given the choice, I choose a Norwegian label which, for all I know, may turn out to be New York City tap in a fancy glass cylinder. I’m selective about my bathroom soap, both the hand soap and the bar soap. I’m selective about everything. My glasses (those I look through and those I drink from), the type of sponge in my kitchen… and these are among the smallest details. Watching me buy a gift or something for my home’s décor requires the patience of a saint. Or the patience of my wife. But something’s changed in the last few years.
The economy. It sucks. I had lots-o-money in 2007. And then I lost it. It was so painful to lose, and boy I didn’t want to feel that pain again, so I worked my ass off and began to build up my bank accounts. And then I lost it again in 2008. So, in 2009, I did it again, worked around the clock, began to build up savings, and… you guessed it. Blew it again. And then one last time in 2010. I finally had to ask myself, What am I meant to learn that I’m not learning? And as we roll through the last quarter of 2011, I think I’m coming to it: Things cannot take the place of people. Consumption, at least at the volume in which I engaged, isn’t healthy.
In the absence of material wealth, I’ve come to rely on people. This is a rather frightening concept for me. I fancy myself very independent. I’d prefer to buy assistance than ask for it. But I’ve been forced to reach out in the last 14 months in a way that I’ve never needed to before. It’s been a humbling experience. But lately it doesn’t feel so humbling. It feels more human. As though I’m finding balance.
Yesterday I was thinking of the word nothing. I never really picked it apart before, but in playing with it, I realized that it’s a combination of two words: No Thing. And then it hit me. No thing can define who I am. No thing can take the place of people. Nothing should take the place of relationships. We’ve been in this economic nightmare since 2007. That’s 4 years… Maybe my lesson is more universal than personal.