I was brought up to be grateful for everything. The food on my plate (even before it went into my belly) and the warm bed covers (even though I was wearing 3 layers) in a cold, dark corner of Ireland. In that way, I never really questioned what I was given, I was just happy to be given something. (I sound like an orphan from Africa lol. I am not an orphan from Africa.) It was only when I started to stretch myself out of that corner of Ireland that I began to see there’s other ways to live. You can have it ALL! I lived in France and was very happy with my apartment, mostly because I had a G terrace to eat my breakfast on and have BBQ’s and sun bathe. I survived (ha – survive isn’t the best word, with all the wine consumed in that time, I more than survived) that year without a duvet on my bed because I didn’t think it would be worthwhile buying one for a year… and part of me was hopeful that it would be too warm to need a duvet in the south of France. I was wrong. It does get cold when you’re surrounded by the Pyrénées mountains and the wind (which has its own name: La Tramontana. Sounds as scary as it feels) whips across your face with sharp, coarse brushes. Anyway, it wasn’t because I couldn’t afford to buy a duvet or because it was too warm for a duvet. I didn’t buy it then, like I don’t buy things now: I didn’t need it. I was being frugal. I had a little throw for most of the year which did just fine. You might think, well you could never have been cosy without a duvet or didn’t you make yourself unhappy with something you could have just bought for 20 euros? The price of a nice bottle of wine or 4. There’s a difference between need and want. I didn’t need it
Frugality. I love that word but it doesn’t sound fun, does it? It’s not like outrageous or luxury or extravagant. It’s more like prudent or careful or sparing. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live a pious life like a monk. I have nice things, I buy a coffee most days, I go to the hairdressers every so often. The difference is how you live. I can make a case for buying that pink jumper because I usually wear black and will get away with wearing it many times because of that. I can’t make a case for buying those leopard print boots because, although they are trendy af right now, the material of the boot will get ruined in the inevitable rain that will fall and they are ‘statement’ piece. They lose the ‘statement’ once you wear them every single day for 4 months, like I would.
Am I wrong not to get the boots because I actually want them and think they’re cool and will wear them a lot? I don’t know, all I know is that I am wearing a solid black boot right now with no trace of animal print. And I am happy with that decision. But when do these decisions get in your way? When you’re sitting at a nice restaurant and your steak comes out and it’s not dripping with blood like you asked for? Or worse, you’ve ordered Eggs Royale and the eggs are so hard you could throw them at all the wall and it would leave a mark. Is it wrong that, 99% of the time, I wouldn’t send it back. I’d just eat and still be reasonably happy. I am paying good money for these things and I am entitled to get what I pay for but something, coming from my core, tells me not to mind. I don’t mind about these things but I should. And it’s not about not making a fuss, I can tell people exactly what is wrong when the situation demands that. I think it’s about being happy enough regardless of exterior conflict. Maybe my steak is over cooked but I am sitting in a beautiful restaurant with a beautiful person and beautiful wine and so on. I am so happy just to be out and about never mind eating in a restaurant never mind eating steak in a restaurant. At the end of all of this, I still don’t know if I’m right to be like this or wrong not to go out and get exactly what I want despite the hurt feelings and the lost time in doing so.
One of my favourite sayings to my sister is “It’s a buyers market… and you’re the buyer.” I say it in a joking way because we’re siblings and I have to get a sly dig in every now and again but it is still true. Everyone is selling something and they want YOU to buy it. Consumerism. Your personal wellbeing and happiness depends to a very large extent on the level of personal consumption, particularly on the purchase of material goods. You haven’t been on 4 holidays this year? Well then, I don’t expect you to be happy. That’s what they’re selling us anyway. But what happens when you’re happy with your lot? When you cease (to a point) in being a consumer and just go about your day. Or is frugality/being happy with your lot a short term experience only? Do we need a reason for being happy with our lot for the time being. You’re saving for a holiday/car/a life and that makes this carefulness worthwhile because there is an end point. We’re told to have long term and short term and in between term goals. From school to housework to career to relationships. You should reach this stage in your career at this age. Or you should be at this stage in your relationship by year X. Pressure is everywhere as I’ve said before. But what if you don’t want to play by the rules someone else has set for a different game entirely. What if you want to live right here, right now and just be happy with what you have and not ask for more. Would we be happier?
Take what you’re given or ask for what you want?