I don’t think being poor is awesome. In fact, I have a lot of fears surrounding poverty. As J.K. Rowling cautions in her Harvard Commencement speech (worth watching)- poverty is nothing to be glamourized. I’ve always been afraid of the starving artist stereotype- probably because it’s a bill I could easily fit. However, my point is, having just enough to meet our basic needs offers some life lessons.
I used to be a bit spoiled when I was younger, then- dun dun dah!- I got ‘cut off’. I used to wear nice clothes (nicer than I do now), and had much (!) more than I needed. I unconsciously equated my self worth with my stuff, and always felt like I wanted more stuff. I was careless with my things and money. I was always loosing things, and had anxiety about not having as much as the next person. This whole time I’d never had a job. I didn’t understand the value of money.
Now, I’m relatively broke- ha ha- and while it occasionally worries me, I feel thankful for my experiences with less than I had. I’m more happy now than I was with more money. The satisfaction I used to get from looking cool in the best clothes, or impulsive buying has shifted to more meaningful things. That same short lived adrenaline rush I used to get from spending now visits when I hear really great music, the sun shines, or I hang out with friends. I appreciate free things way more, and it’s pretty amazing.
My perspective on materialism really changed after the fire in Slave Lake, AB in 2011. It’s easy to claim, “our stuff doesn’t define us” but when I thought I lost everything it was a striking feeling. I was so overcome with worrying about people’s wellbeing in our town, and the people I loved I really realized our stuff isn’t nearly as important as the ones we love. Please don’t be offended by my experience in the fire- I didn’t lose my house or my things- but I gained a real sense of what’s important to me and it changed my life.
I was walking down a busy street in Edmonton yesterday, traffic was heavy and there were people everywhere. The sun was shining so bright on the glass windows of the tall buildings that surrounded me. I played this in my headphones and I was so happy and excited. I felt like I was receiving so many ‘gifts’, I was smiling thinking how awesome it is they’re all free.
‘Stuff’ can distort our view of ourselves, others and what it really means to be happy. Money contours perception. I’m a little shopper with more than I need just like you, and I know I have a pretty incredible lifestyle, but it’s pretty awesome to be conscious of the way money influences our lives, and realize truly that the best things are free (I know it’s cliche, but I really felt it with the music and sunshine).
Thanks for reading,
Hope you’re doing well- and if you’re not just bump a good tune- and you might feel a little better.