One day while I was driving in
U. looked at me oddly. “Everyone can’t have a car,” he said.
(I tell that story a lot, because he is right. We can’t all have a car. It would destroy the world. If I have one, someone else can’t, either in this generation or the next. Can you imagine six or eight billion cars depleting the ozone layer?)
After posting about my obscenely expensive jeans, I got an email from an internet friend who is currently in
Like many people, I went through a stage in college in which I was very upset about the poverty in the world and the fact that most of us aren’t really doing anything about it. I cried when my parents built a new house in a middle-class suburb and we had to move out of the ‘hood. I had just come back from a semester studying development in
I’ve mellowed, since. Well. A bit. I would still choose, if it were up to me, an older building over a newly-constructed one, because I don’t think we need all these new buildings that are killing forests all over the world (although if you start thinking about energy efficiency, those old buildings are pretty bad, and then everything gets far too complicated). I am still going to try to get by without a car in my
I haven’t stopped believing that the way we live affects the rest of the world. I’ve just stopped beating myself up when I don’t do such a good job of it.
And, too, I’ve learned something else, about myself. There are many things that I will not spend money on, even if everyone else has them. It is unlikely, for example, that I will buy a television in my new apartment. I never did get that sleeping bag that I wanted in college. I go to the library when I hear about a new book that I’d like to read but won’t need to keep and reread for the rest of my life. I’m still holding off on buying snow and rain boots (my hiking boots from
There are also things that I will spend money on, and those tend to be the things that I need to stay sane. I will spend money on comfortable, warm, long-lasting clothes that I will use frequently. I will spend money on quality tea and candles. I will spend money on decorative items to make my surroundings bearable. I will spend money on good running shoes and good pens (preferably refillable ones).
To sum it up, what I’ve learned in the last seven years is just to be a bit easier on myself: to wait a few more days before spending that money, because maybe it is more needed somewhere else, but also to take care of myself. Or even simpler: it isn’t a betrayal of my ideals to take care of myself, when I need it.
(I’m tempted to add a caveat: that my taking care of myself can and does get out of hand sometimes. I am aware of that and I try to curb it. Not everyone in the world can afford to take care of themselves, to treat themselves once in a while, and I am very aware that my ability to do so is a luxury. It is a luxury that every person should have, but not everyone does. Okay, clearly I have now added the caveat.)