The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It


 When I was in my mid-twenties I heard an acquaintance make this statement:

 “We want our friends to do well – we just don’t want them to do too well.”

 Sadly, I have discovered that many of us look at life and friendship that way. We are happy for our friends to do well – as long as their “doing well” isn’t better than the success that we have personally achieved.

 In a consumer-based society we typically define our achievements not in terms of who we are but by what we have acquired.

 It’s great that our friends have a two car garage – as long as ours will accommodate three.

 Their 60 inch TV has a terrific picture – almost as good as our 72-incher in the family room.

 The list goes on and on. I’ll allow you to fill in the blanks.

 My favorite aunt taught me a valuable lesson. She enjoyed collecting thimbles. Every Christmas I would find a set of twelve to give her. One year the theme was birds, the next year dogs, the following year flowers. This went on for many years. She showcased these thimbles in little shadow box frames. The walls of her small apartment were filled with them.

 When I visited her for the holidays one year she said to me, “Listen dear. I love my thimbles and you’ve given me so many. But it’s enough. I am trying to unburden myself from possessions. Your being here for Christmas is the only present I want.”

 I returned the set I had purchased for her that year.

 If you feel that you need a 20 thousand square foot house to feel important then I wish you all the best. (You have just encumbered yourself with the need to hire a staff to maintain it. I don’t envy you that responsibility).

 If you must acquire expensive jewelry to accent your designer wardrobe I hope you enjoy yourself at the gala. (I have no need to run to the vault to pick out the necklace I am going to wear with my one of a kind dress. I don’t own one).

 If your possessions are the center of your life then God bless you. I hope they make you happy and enrich your life. (For me there is nothing more priceless in this vast universe than being able to snuggle up with a loving puppy and gently fall asleep).

 If you were a friend I would say to you, “I hope you do well. In fact, I hope you achieve your heart’s desires. You have justly earned your reward.”



Comments on: "I’M DOING WELL – AND YOU?" (4)

  1. I’m on the same page with your way of thinking. I read the blog “zen habits” a lot, and while I’m not a total minimalist, I think that way of living has some great merits. Your post reminded me of one I wrote a while back regarding moving to a much smaller house and combining 2 households. So many people have suggested we just add on more and more space so we can keep all our stuff and get more stuff. That makes no sense to me. We love the farmhouse the way it is, and we’ll just get rid of whatever doesn’t fit!
    Anyway hope your heart is full this Christmas!

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