How did life get so complicated? I don’t remember signing up for this.
When I was a little kid, I couldn’t wait to get older, so I could have my own way. When I finally did get old enough to drive, work, and kiss boys, (not necessarily in that order), things got faster and much more fun, for a moment. It seems like it all went down hill after that. What happened? Driving, working and kissing, that’s what. It’s all good fun until someone loses an eye. Now I’m gimping around like a one-eyed pirate, scowling and muttering under my breath. I have questionable fashion tastes and I’ve sacrificed bits of my body, here and there, to many a sea battle. Most of the time I feel like the sailors on Davy Jones’ ship, slowly disappearing into the woodwork. I was in such a hurry to leave the simple pleasures of childhood behind, for this?
Six years ago, I was in my late thirties starting to awaken from the child-rearing stupor. I looked around and thought, “Wow, I’m an old, used up pirate in a world full of teenaged girls!” I watched them prance around with my sons and their friends, laughing and talking like young sailors on shore leave. It was sad, really, to witness their oblivion to the voyage that lay ahead. I must admit, though, I get a certain amount of wicked pleasure, nowadays, watching them sail into the baby years, thinking that they know it all. Just wait until the first one comes home with head lice. “Welcome to the real world, blossom. By the way, that’s a lovely eye patch you’re sporting.” Signing up to see the world is all good and fine until cabin fever sets in and the crew wants to eat your parrot. Somewhere amidst the reality shows, the health magazines and the double lattes, we’ve lost our way. Our moral compass has been traded in for an ipod touch and everybody eats in their cars. What the hell?
I clean houses and occasionally I come into contact with some fairly wealthy people. You know what? They’re all the same. Well, so far. Just like people in my financial bracket. We shop at Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree, Big Lots, garage sales, etc. We watch the same shows, read the same articles, go on the same vacations to the same places. Therefore, we dress the same, talk the same, do the same things and decorate our houses with the same stuff. Rich people are like that, too. They just shop at nicer stores and go on nicer vacays. All their houses look alike. All their kids look alike. It’s weird. Their selections are just as limited as mine. Their activities aren’t any more varied, they just require more expensive accessories. The poor buy comfort and distraction, the wealthy buy time and people.
I have a book about rural homes in the French countryside. It was published about fifteen years ago. The author explains in the preface that they had to find the most remote areas and search among the oldest living residents to find authentic pre-industrial remnants of simple, rural life. The people and homes that they encountered would be a mystery to most of us in the first world. A table width would match the width of the window it stood next to. A bed closet was tucked under a staircase with homemade embroidered linens gracing a child’s goose down bedding. Corn hung in bunches over an enormous fireplace, large enough to set two small chairs and a stove inside. The furniture, the utensils, everything was made by the inhabitants for a specific place and a specific purpose. They even quarried the stone to build their own cottages. How can it be that human beings, with all the beauty and creativity that we are capable of expressing, in a world of wonder and abundance, have been reduced to Pottery Barn and Starbuck’s, rickets and rum? We’ve gained some decent fighting skills and amassed a few treasures, but we’ve lost the ability to see each other, to listen to our children, to rest. Go figure.
I guess I just needed to have a little rant. Today, I encourage you to look into the face of your cashier instead of talking on your cell phone at the check out. Build something in your back yard. Spend Labor Day with people you’re not related to. Just sit around and talk together, eat together, laugh together. Lighten up and look around and for heaven’s sake, leave your eye patch and your parrot at home.