This may be considered a follow-up of "The Pain of Acquisition": crystalaki.livejournal.com/6198.html (Not that anyone will read this, but in the event that someone does, hopefully they'll gain some new insight.)
"The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it."
Henry David Thoreau
In today's society, people are misled by the lie that their life's worth is measured only in how much they have. Experience takes the back seat, what is more important is how many things can be acquired before death. Someone even had the audacity to come up with the stupid credo of "whoever dies with the most toys, wins." Please. Spare us all.
Which brings about the point I'm going to make here that slavery is still alive and well. Not in the sense that we learned about in history class. The most tragic aspect of this new type of slavery is that it's self-induced, with those shackled knowing full well of the consequences.
The pain of acqusition knows no bounds. It's out to destroy all in its path, mangling the true meaning of life in the process.
This slavery I allude to is payments for things we don't need. Too many people happily sign their lives away for that big screen TV or new jet-ski. They know full well the consequences if they miss a payment---they pay late fees, they fall deeper in debt, they ignore reasonable needs such as food for want of a "toy", their homes could be taken away, and at the extreme, their very freedom which they stupidly frittered away in the first place. (I hear some deadbeats can be tossed in jail for non payment to the bank or other creditors.) Is it really worth it? How does a TV help to meet your survival needs?
These people who boast that they are "free" really are quite the opposite. The are shackled and slowly being crushed to death by the weight of their unnecessary bills/wants. The art of frugal living is becoming a thing of the past and this saddens me to no end. I know of those who are of the "car's broke down, let's buy another" mentality, even as they struggle to feed themselves and their children.
It's almost as if some feel their lives aren't complete without owing money to someone. Why?
What a world it would be if only people invested as much into each other as they do their precious things. War would be damn near non-exisitent---think about it. Why do people/nations fight? Because they want MORE. Everybody wants more. In the words of Thoreau, I encourage you to "Simplify."
If Jane Doe has a newer car and a bigger house than me, does that make her a better person? Society at large would say "yes", because she has more THINGS, this indicates her financial status. Because I live in a trailer and drive a '93 Oldsmobile, I am looked down upon. I have less, therefore, supposedly, I am less of a person. In society's eyes, the fact that I encourage people to focus less on things and more on experiences makes me eccentric and crazy. The fact that Jane Doe has luxury items and is in debt up to her eyeballs makes her a saint.
Let Jane Doe have her new car and huge house. What seperates she from me is that she is silently suffering by her own design. My car cost me $350.00 and is paid in full (still took a while); hers is $17,000 and she'll be paying almost as much a month as my car's total cost for the next three to five years. All because she doesn't want to be seen driving a "junker". She has willingly become the slave to both a THING (the car) and its creditor. She is a slave to the car because of its creditor--her insurance goes up until it's paid off, there is interest to take into account, etc. Sainthood has its price, and a very high one at that. Meanwhile, she complains that she and her family are hungry and nearly out of food. Uh, hello??? "Gee, I'm on the brink of starvation but at least I got my 68 inch flatscreen 4D plasma TV!"
What's worse, such people are so worried about coming up with the money for these useless acqusitions that they can't really enjoy them in the first place. What's the point?
I'll stick with my eccentricity, thank you very much. At least I don't have car payments, ATV payments, boat payments, jewelry payments, electronic/appliance payments, etc. to contend with. Entertainment for me is going for my walks in the woods and watching the critters I encounter there. And it doesn't cost a thing. The only cost is when I choose to bring a camera and need batteries. However, the experience of being able to creep so close to deer and herons to photograph them is worth more than the finest car, TV, or boat. Definitely worth the price of two batteries to take those photos. Better to spend that for such a purpose than make too many payments for the hot new game system that will teach me nothing.
Society would make people such as me feel ashamed for rejecting things in favor of experiences. I don't care. They're struggling with unnecessary debt, and they are well aware of the adage, "misery loves company." They'll have to make accquaintance with someone else.
My mother, who had a bit of a disdain for material-minded people, reveled in adventures and experiences. It was not uncommon for her to wake us up incredibly early in the morning on weekends to go for a ride in hopes of seeing wildlife and whatever else. These trips were not in vain. I saw my first moose running alongside East Pond Road at about 2 AM on a Saturday morning. We saw deer, foxes, and the peaceful solitude of an otherwise sleeping world. My mother had little money, but managed to instill in us the fact that there is so much more to life than the acqusition of money and things. She'd observe how sure, the neighbors have a great car, but how miserable are they having to make so many payments on it? While we were cruising about in an old clunker, having the time of our lives.
My mother liked to say, "Although we're poor in money, we're rich in fun."
She is right.