Post-edit Note: This was not written with anyone specific in mind. I solemnly swear. Most everyone I know has more money and bigger homes than I do and this is in NO WAY a criticism of how they live. This is my own emotional challenge from the two devils who sit on my shoulder and tell me how I should live my life.
As we've been looking for our next home, it's amazing how much more of a home you can get with every $50k you add to your search. Suddenly, your price range is $200k more than you planned and your dream home is staring back at you in the search results.
Bigger is better.
Your family is growing (not in the amount of children, but in their individual sizes); you NEED more space.
It's the American dream to own a large home with a movie room, a play room, a basement kitchen, a football field in the backyard, an extra car garage, and a fireman's pole or slide somewhere inside (no? that last one was only my dream? hmmm.)!
|from my Pinterest "My Idea of Home" board that I admittedly have over 220 pictures on.|
My brain keeps telling me these things. It tells me to want MORE. To work HARDER so I can ENJOY THE GOOD THINGS in life. It shows me pictures in catalogs, on Pinterest, in my friends' and families' instagrams. My brain tells me to want all of these things and more with the implied, "Then you'll be happy."
Of course I know it's all bull. Deep down I don't want any of it. Maybe a little bit of it, but most of it isn't even my THANG. I'm a hippy at heart. A gypsy hippy, even.
We like to play this game of "If I had millions of dollars, I would...". It's super fun. Of course, it's easy to spend money you don't have and be an altruist in your fictional future. But I never plan on building a huge home with any of my imagined millions. I would rather travel. Open a really cool shop. Go back to school. Maybe become a college professor. Buy things for my family. Work in orphanages all over the world. Give a lot of it away to people in greater need. (See? Altruism at its finest, when I can only dream it.) I don't dream about ginormous diamonds and being on MTV Cribs (is that show still on?).
So, why then do I feel this internal struggle of buying a bigger home or nicer car? Is it because I am a product of my society and therein the conflict? Is it because I willingly and unwillingly compare what I have to the things that those closest (and not) to me have? Coveting is a serious issue. Alan pointed out recently that coveting is mentioned most often in the Ten Commandments. I guess God knows we are a jealous bunch.
Where, then, is the great big line drawn that differentiates wanting to beautify your environment and express creativity and individuality AND the overkill of consumption and coveting?
These are questions that keep me up at night. Well, not really, because I can fall asleep within 5 minutes of getting into bed... or on the couch. But I do wonder about these kinds of things. How do I instill hard work in myself and my children, to value and respect what hard work buys you, to beautify your spaces, but to not value it above all the other million important things in life?!
Why would we want to work excruciatingly long and hard to barely afford our huge houses, feel the need to fill them, barely spend any time in them, and then fret and worry about others stealing our opulence? It's a weird, wicked cycle.
I cannot find the quote or man who said it, but years ago I remember reading about a designer who drastically downsized his large home into a really small apartment. He said something akin to how we tend to buy our homes to suit 5% of our lives. We have homes with guest bedrooms, huge spaces for parties, extra bathrooms just in case more than one visitor has to pee at the same time. Instead, we should build our homes to fit the 95% of our lives and the 5% will work itself out. We'll still have visitors and parties and they will still be great. Attitude changes, not space. This spoke to my little hippy heart.
We need to change the culture for ourselves and our children. Kids assume that they will buy a huge home right after they get married and have great furniture and closets full of cool, blog-worthy clothes. If not right after they get married, then not long after. Is that what we want them to work for? For a house? For a place they can take pictures of and post on whatever social media is rad at the time and show their "SUCCESS"?
President Obama was quoted recently about this shift in consumption with the ascending generation.
"I do think what's shifted is a notion that the wealthier you are, the more conspicuous consumption you engage in. The more successful you are, the more society should stay out of your way as you pursue the bigger house or the fancier jet or the bigger yacht. Were there things that all of us might have liked to have? Sure. But partly, I think, there also has been a shift in culture. We weren't exposed to things we didn't have in the same way kids these days are. There was not that window into the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Kids weren't monitoring every day what Kim Kardashian was wearing, or where Kanye West was going on vacation, and thinking that somehow that was the mark of success."
Sure, pot meet kettle and all. But there is a lot of truth there. Not just that, but it loudly declares that IF you follow in these unsavory footsteps, kids, you can have this purported "success" as well. No, thanks. Please, mes enfants, look away.
Ashton Kutcher received an award over the weekend from a teen show. He used the time allotted to him, not to be funny, but to actually impart some wisdom. Props to him, I say. My favorite part of his speech was when he told the teens of the world how to be sexy: