Note: This piece is about my struggle with my own poverty mentality. In a way, what you are about to read is truly a prosperity problem. I haven’t unknotted the whole thing yet; so, bear with me as I allow myself to be a work in progress.
So, I recently had a mini-midlife crisis. Or, actually, maybe I just felt like having a whole lot of brand new treats at the same time.
Unfortunately, I had my checkbook with me.
So, I got a puppy. And a cute car to match her.
First, the dog. Her name is Daisy Mae and she is a Bichon Frise. She’s teeny tiny and absolutely sweet and just a love.
Now, the car.
It’s a VW bug convertible. Powder Blue.
Now, here’s the breakthrough on that: for as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted a convertible – ever since Aunt Susie got her super-cool ride back when I was a little kid.
But, I never got a convertible. Or a fun little sports car.
I always bought “sensible.” And, most of the time, used.
Bought the station wagon for the first baby. She died, and I had to drive around that “family car” for a whole year without a family in it until, finally, my first son was born.
After that, more kids, and a minivan. I hated that minivan. But, it was practical and I could lug stuff. And, if you know anything about me, you know I LOVE to lug people and their stuff.
Um, completely not!
But, I had responsibilities and my car matched them. I ran that minivan into the ground. And then I got a little SUV that was cooler, but still not what I wanted. It wasn’t the color I wanted. It wasn’t the brand I wanted. It wasn’t cool. Or hip. Or fresh.
But, it was PRACTICAL. (See where I’m going here.)
Last weekend, I got sick of it. That car, and all the others before it became an unbearable symbol of all the ways that I’ve forsaken what I WANTED to do for what I was SUPPOSED to do. (And, truth be told, what I felt I had to do.)
I have felt financially choice-less for such a long time. A lot of it was based in reality. There have been so many frighteningly lean years. The problem is, even when things eased up, I’ve still lived in financial crisis mode.
I’ve made countless other choices like that:
- I lived in a town I hated for two decades so the kids could keep their good school.
- I lived in a house I couldn’t afford, for the same time for the same reason.
- Because of that, I couldn’t have the things I needed for a basic life. Neither could the boys. But they did have that school system that none of them cared about.
- I did “mom things” because I was supposed to.
- This left little time for the thing I WAS supposed to do – speak, teach, and write about adversity and triumph. (I know. Ironic, right?)
I know you know what I mean. And, thank you for that.
Anyway, back to the car.
It was not a “practical” time to get the car. We are still paying two college tuitions. Also, HS Senior doesn’t even leave until August. So, we can’t all fit into that little bug convertible (Someone say “Amen.”)
When I told my mom, she reminded me that convertibles aren’t safe. When I was younger, they weren’t safe because random scary guys could grab me. Now, they’re not safe because of the snow on the road.
Oh – as an aside – have you ever NOT bought the car you wanted because of the 7-10 days a year there is snow on the road? This is the perfect example of the kind of screwy thinking that keeps us tethered to a joy-less life.
My husband wondered if I should wait until after the next one leaves in the Fall. But you know as well as I do, that then there would be some other reason not to do the thing I wanted to do.
So, all my life, I’ve wanted a convertible, but I haven’t allowed myself to have it because it was:
The “bad man” might get me
My family won’t fit in it
Or, if they will, their stuff won’t
It won’t be great during the three snowstorms we have each year.
The canvas roof looks tired after a bit
It’s not a “mom car.”
It’s gonna snow 2% of the year.
Last weekend, as I was hanging out with a girlfriend, it became clear to me how completely nuts this whole line of thinking was.
When will I be free of all the responsibilities I have in order to do some of the things I want?
In fact, it’s not even supposed to work that way.
I’m not supposed to be free of my responsibilities. If I were, that would mean I love no one, I create nothing, I am indifferent of my impact on the world. I was completely disinterested in my legacy.
And that would mean I lived completely alone and apart in this world.
The challenge seems to be, how do you live Shakespeare’s suggestion, “to thine own self be true,” while also living in community with others?
It’s a continuum of choices spread over a lifetime.
This last weekend, I chose the car.
And the pup.
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