“Blah-blah, Wah-wah, I want to fly first class on an economy ticket.” If that’s what you heard from the first three posts in this series, you are not alone. The general response seems to be that nobody wants to hear me complain about buying off-brand cereal. Ha!
Some of the response caught me off-guard because I suffer from chronic Scholarship Student Syndrome in which I automatically assume everyone has more money than I do. I was surprised when people made all sorts of false assumptions like I had season tickets to the opera and flew first class. (I did fly first class once when I was bumped up to it as recompense for a cancelled flight–and it was awesome!)
When I wrote the beauty manifesto in Part Three, I was totally tearing up: “This is so true and meaningful! Art is so important!” Tear swipe. Tear swipe. Rereading it now after a full-body reality check arrived in my inbox over the week, I’m thinking, “Gag me. Get over yourself.”
A reader writes:
I knew you enjoyed many more material things than I did but you were so modest about it, it didn’t matter. Now in comparison, you’re very specific in detail about what all those things were and you talk about the new level as a very pathetic existence. I believe it’s entirely unintentional, but it makes me feel really bad. I don’t necessarily believe you’re judging me but I was 100% sure you weren’t before, and now I’m not so sure.
Ouch. That slap’s gonna leave a mark.
My first response is to dredge up 15 examples of what a down-to-earth commoner I am or try to out-poor everyone like a politician. Think Ann Romney’s ironing board dinners and Michelle Obama’s bill-struggling comments. Ladies, please. What does that really accomplish? Truth is, I live comfortably. That’s okay, isn’t it? Geez, it better be okay.
My second response is to take down the whole series, which I did over the weekend, and pretend it never happened. Like this one time, years before Kent and I started dating, when a girl we knew sent him an email out of the blue about how much she wanted to kiss him. Kent told me about it and asked me what he should do. Convinced she was probably kicking herself for ever having hit send if she hadn’t already killed herself with a rock, I advised Kent to pretend he had never gotten it and to go on as before. So he did just that, and they were totally able to remain friends. Like Peggy and Pete’s baby, “it will shock you how much it never happened.” Phew!
But I promised myself when I started blogging that unless I hurt someone’s feelings or violated their privacy, I wouldn’t take anything down just to spare myself. I fully expected when I started writing this blog that people would judge my parenting, my marriage, my style and everything else. I accept that.
Besides which, there is great advice in the comments that it would be a pity to lose.
So I’m letting it stand. Whether these posts made you think I’m pathetic or spoiled or someone just like you who is looking for a 40% off coupon to use on their entire life, this series stands as a snapshot of me at this moment in time. And like bad bangs, it will probably make me die a little inside of mortification when I look back at it, because guess what? I think I’m too materialistic. And by “too” I mean “more than I personally would like to be”. I do believe there is a distinction to be drawn between being aesthetically oriented and being materialistic–though the one may lead to the other. But I think I can admit that in addition to being artsy-fartsy, I’ve probably become good, old-fashioned too materialistic.
Losing income actually increased my materialism because I have devoted 10 times the mental energy to money while I’ve been trying to save it than I ever did while I was just spending it.
Yesterday, I did a quick search on the internet on how to become less materialistic. Behold, the step guides! “3 Steps, 5 Steps, 8 Ways, 15 Tricks to becoming less materialistic!” My favorite was a three-step guide in which step 3 was “Assign less importance to material things.” Wow, that’s so useful. That’s totally a practical, implementable “step” rather than just a restatement of the goal.
Some of the more useful advice included injunctions to meditate, serve, get a hobby, count your blessings, give something away, and commune with nature. Since nature is currently communing torrentially all over my mud-soaked rental (Yes, I realize that’s an improper use of commune. Just go with it.), I think I’ll go meditate.
Oh, yeah. Over half the articles had religious overtones. I guess I was surprised to hear materialism treated as a religious issue. The love of money is the root of all evil, and all that. Even so, it’s just the root, right? I mean, it ain’t the whole tree.*
I’m still open for suggestions on how to save money, but I would also love to hear personal accounts of people’s changing relationships with material things. Here in the comments is best, but if you prefer, send me an email.
What are your steps to becoming less materialistic? Does dressing your family matchy-matchy help? Because if it does, I’m in luck!
*this is a joke. I feel I need to clarify when I’m being totally facetious after yesterday when I was being so hilarious in church pretending I had cussed a guy out–and no one was laughing. It was a joooke. I never threw my kids, either. jooooke. jooooooooooooke. I should give up comedy.