Often people attempt to live their lives backwards - they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so they will be happier.
The way it actually works is the reverse.You must first be who you really are ...then do what you need to do in order to have what you want.
The above is a quote by Margaret Young, who was a dreamy-eyed flapper girl in the 20s, if her Facebook page is any indication. She seems to be remembered only for this quote, and I can't find any context for her having said it. Was it in her liner notes? Did she pop off with it during her stand-up routine?
I wonder how she felt about her own life in relation to her famous quote. She lived long, and stayed unmarried it seems, though I can't make any assumptions about the impact of that on her happiness. As an aside: I totally want to assume away, though. I am completely programmed to pity poor, old maid Maggie. When maybe she had dozens of lovers and was so happy she could hardly walk most days... I mean, who knows? Regardless, there doesn't appear to be any collected writings, so I'll likely never know.
And-so, it's just a simple platitude. It's the sort of schmaltzy Hallmark sentiment that concludes the emails of many a grandmother, not to mention secretaries, massage therapists, and that aunt everyone refers to as a "free spirit" (not unlike Maggie, I bet). These sentiments are just fillers. We aren't meant to actually READ them, yet this one has stuck in my throat.
I've been thinking a lot about what I want vs. what I think I deserve vs. what the universe will let me have. There was a time when I had access to credit that could buy me whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it--because my wants were Tshirts, CDs, an occasional trip, all the yarn I ever saw. Now, because of that folly, I have a mountain of debt and nothing to do but wait til my small contributions whittle it down. I have to want much less to keep from feeling deprived. I have to choose BETWEEN a bike lock and a curtain rod until my next check. Trying to take joy in a bike ride, when I could once order up a cruise, is hard.
Not that it is pitiable, by ANY stretch. Talking about wanting stuff I can't have isn't a plea for donations or gentle pats on the shoulder. As J. Alfred's girl once said, "That's not what I meant at all." There are many people much worse off than me right now. I get that, and I get that this is good for me--I am just observing the phenomenon.
And I am observing it, because there seem to be a lot of other people in this position of wanting, and the recent crumbling of the economy has taken away all the credit we used to use to satisfy those wants. It's not just about stuff, either. Food used to be something that some people could afford, and others couldn't. Rather than using credit to close the gap, we are using low quality food made from genetically modified corn and soy to provide cheaper and cheaper versions of the food that "everyone" eats so that the poor don't have to suffer as much through their poverty. I can buy an all-angus beef burger at a restaurant for $7 or more, or go to McDuds and pay 99 cents... for something that resembles beef, but has nowhere near the levels of protein (28g vs 12g) or iron (20% vs 15%).
On a recent blog post where a writer wrote glowing praise of a factory pig farm (after being paid by the pork industry to do so) she justified factory farming by saying that not everyone can afford $12/lb pork that is raised humanely. A commenter replied, that if they can't afford it, maybe they shouldn't eat it. Her response? "People don't like being told what they can eat."
If I understand this line of thinking, since I want bacon (and who in their right mind doesn't?!), the economy OWES me bacon I can afford. And if all I can pay is 99 cents a pound, then by God, jam those pigs in as tight as possible and pump them full of all the antibiotics you need to, and screw the ecology of towns in the midwest that are literally being flooded by pigshit. Because I deserve bacon.
And I deserve fancy running shoes that correct my SLIGHT pronation and don't cost an arm and a leg, so get those kids who live in some country I can't even spell to stitching.
And if anyone can have a big screen TV, then where the hell's mine? Send out another credit card, and figure out how to make it work. 'Cause I want it now.
I don't have any answers, just a lot of different thoughts about wanting and the state of things and how much I contribute to or against the problem. I mean, is this the beginning of the end of this empire? When our individual wants have finally superceded the needs of everyone to such a degree that we destroy not just our financial systems, but our food supply, housing markets, and environment all to get it? It doesn't happen in one oil spill or one auto maker's bankruptcy, but in a million little decisions to have or have not that all of us are making every single day.