Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The best things in life

are free. Or rather, they don’t cost money. We live in a culture that is continuously trying to put a monetary value on everything. From the price of lunch to the price of falling in love, our world is constantly trying to place a dollar value on everything. People won’t date because it takes too much time and is too expensive. Others read 1-minute bedtime stories to their children. What it amounts too is that people are placing more value on time spent earning money than time spent for other pursuits. When you boil this down to its most basic level, our society has now placed a higher value on money than on anything else. This, I firmly believe, is the root cause of our increasing alienation and loneliness.

Most, if not all, of the truly important things in life can’t be bought with money. An evening spent with a dear friend, watching movies and laughing, can not be purchased with money. Neither can time spent helping a child learn to read, and the utter exultation felt when the first word is finally gotten. Weddings can be purchased with money, but happy marriages can not. Services to help produce a child can be purchased, but not a good relationship with the resulting child. These things and many, many more, can not be purchased with money. And yet, we are so single-mindedly focused on the pursuit of money that we would rather work than spend time with a child, spouse, parent, or pet. And when we have the time off, we would still rather go to the mall and buy useless things than spend time with others. There is something deeply, deeply wrong with a culture that values shopping and material possessions above human relations.

Our culture’s priorities have never held me in thrall. Shopping holds no thrill for me, possessions nothing but responsibility. But since I haven’t been able to rush out to the store for anything I’ve needed, I have had time to think and see how truly insane our culture is. It has also been strangely liberating. I have always been good at ‘making do’. Growing up in poverty taught me how to do that. But lately I have gotten much, much better. Instead of going without I have learned to improvise and come up with creative solutions to various problems. I have also come to realize that just because you need something doesn’t mean you have to buy it from a store, or even pay for it. I have picked up a few things off Freecycle and Trader, and more from yard sales. I have been racking my brain trying to come up with a way to get some lumber to make raised garden beds. And to do so inexpensively. A friend of mine suggested trash picking. No –not going through people’s garbage. Here, people put things they don’t need or want out on the curb for the trashmen. It’s also legal for anyone else to pick up said items. So last night I drove around a bit on my way home and discovered two homes that were remodeling and had thrown out perfectly good boards. They’re old and have nails in them, but they’ll work for garden beds. My next door neighbor also had thrown some out. So, with two stops (three counting the walk next door) I rounded up enough good lumber to build two or three beds for my garden. It took only twenty minutes –less than a trip to Home Depot –and I didn’t have to open my wallet. I also had plenty of time left to make dinner and spend with my dogs.
You just can’t beat that kind of deal. :)


Post a Comment

<< Home