Warning: Sophomoric Ramblings Ahead
I saw this posted the other night, last night? This morning? Shit, I dunno, this weekend has been a blur, but I've been rolling things around in my head a bit since I've read this.
I read an opinion piece the other day, I think The Guardian, that threw out the statistic that if you were born in America in the '50s, you had a 90% chance to exceed your parents' income. If you were born in the '80s, that dropped to 50%. I can only assume it's been dropping since. Just throwing that out there, though I don't know how accurate it is.
I've been pretty bitter the past few years. House hunting and job hunting simultaneously and coming up with nasty disappointment on both fronts does a lot to color my perception. It's not about the money. It never has been. It's about respect. All I want is a job where when people ask me what I do for a living, and I tell them, their eyes light up and say "Wow. That's an interesting job," and then follow up with questions out of genuine interest and not some awkward feeling of social obligation to propel a conversation forward. I don't want a big house, or a fancy house. I just want a solid house. Hell, I'd be willing to give up over half the stuff I own to live in a small house, just as long as I have a house. There's something about owning your own place, not living with others, not paying a landlord, that says "You see this guy? He has his shit together and he made it." I got neither. It makes me feel like a bum and a failure as a husband sometimes, though I know Dala doesn't hold it against me.
People talk about movements on here and other places on the internet all the time. Tiny houses. Sharing economies. Community gardens. This that and the other. I sometimes wonder if people are pursuing these things out of an equal sense of desire for simplicity and smallness, acceptance of their fate that they have to do more with less, and an embracing of creativity and entrepreneurship.
This weekend I paid for my gas with the random handful of bills I had in my wallet, not because I'm broke, but because that's what I had on me at the time. It wasn't near enough to fill up my tank. It reminded me of when I was broke and I was kind of nostalgic for it. I hate the fear of being broke and never want to go back to that, but I miss being forced to be simple. I have too many books and antiques and stuff. I'm constantly getting rid of it. I'm constantly getting more. I'm constantly getting frustrated with myself about it. I don't know how to break the cycle and I've been trying for years.
Sometimes I wonder if being forced to do more with less will eventually be good for America. I think we have too much. A few months back, I drove through the part of town with the multi-million dollar mansions. They're obscene. I found myself frustrated with the people inside because I don't think they deserve their money, because even if they came by it honestly, they also came by it because they're willing participants in a system that exploits others. Here, there, yesterday, tomorrow. Then they take this money and buy things they don't need instead of using it to try and fix the world. It seems so unjust. Then I look at myself, with my nice car, my nice food, my overwhelming collection of stuff, and I think, to someone else somewhere else, they'd look at me and think I'm being just as obscene.
The thoughts in that last paragraph have been on my mind for months now. I've just been trying to figure out how to share them without sounding like a melodramatic child.
So since francopoli posted this, I think about the job. I think about the house. I think about what I want versus what I already have versus what other people want and have or don't have and then I don't know what to think anymore. But I think it might be time to be done complaining, because complaining doesn't fix things for me or for anyone else, it just adds to the frustration and resentment. But if I stop complaining, then I have to start asking questions, and if I start asking questions, I have to start figuring out how to answer them.
That takes introspection. That takes work. That takes commitment. That's big and scary. When I think about those things, then look at people who avoid life's problems through entertainment or drugs, or people who blame others instead of asking themselves questions, I don't know if I can really fault them for it. After all, in a way, isn't that kind of what we all do in our day to day lives? Distract ourselves? Make excuses? Pass the buck . . ?