Why choose material over life itself?
I woke up one morning with the dawning realisation that I was supposed to get a job, go to work and support myself for the rest of my life and having a child on the way it was going to be much harder. And like most middle class kids, I tried to do what the system required of me.
Well because all the role models around me advocated that kind of path, my parents in a strange way, they tried their best, my older brothers and sisters and then the partner of all my children… It was the path of materialistic consumerism, of “want” and “buy”.
Yes that’s the trap I was not born into but consequently “fell into”, that’s the road I started my journey off on. And I dread the trap I have set out for my children.
Now by 2011, at the age of 33, having reached the end of my rope, having acquired many of the material things such as stereo, lap-top computers, televisions, cars, junk galore, as well as much debt, I have found myself suddenly unemployed, separated from the father of all six of my children, just merely escaping bankruptcy and homelessness oh yeah, and along the way suffered from some kind of illness. (That I’m still unsure of what it may be to this day but just live with it anyhow). Needless to say I am ready for a change.
At this time all I know is that the mounting debt has really taken a toll on me physically, emotionally and mentally. Each time another bill comes in I am ready to scream and pull my hair out.
Now on the cutting edge of learning to go without material things, I have what I have, but it’s not going to last is it? …I can say it seems workable enough as an idea, at least to me… simple, right? Simple…yeah maybe, but certainly will not be easy, as I know I will eventually find out. I know you have probably heard it all before but it’s so true it’s actually so much easier to get into debt and accumulate “stuff “than it is to get rid of stuff and live with less.
Present day society is solely based on expanding but why to such extents why? What I wanted to do was move in the other direction, which means I will have to swim upstream to feel the better part of life and I know I will! “Simply because it is in mind”.
The image that has always been in my mind, which has been the yearning in my heart of what I wanted to achieve has always been… “Simple living” the simplest things in life, the things that are mostly free and more importantly yes the littlest things, they really do count, the things that create “precious memories” …. So why didn’t I take that path..! Hmmm well we are allowed to make mistakes yes this is how we learn (the important thing is that we “actually do learn from them “) and by showing my children that they can have the latest thing on the market that they want has indeed been a big mistake…
Imagine a time long ago
Our roots are buried deep in history just imagine a time when our ancestors lived in tribes or clans with no means of communication other than the spoken word, no means of transport other than one’s own feet.
Life was harsh in those far off days and if you wanted to eat you had to find your food in your natural surroundings. Wild animals were hunted for meat and clothing and people would forage for edible plants before winter came, food and firewood had to be gathered and stored to last through these difficult times and the night would be cold and dark if supplies ran out.
The children, the youths, the maidens, the hunters or warriors, the mothers and the old wise women or medicine women would all be safe in the caves, gathered round a camp fire listening to the stories that the elders would tell. The elders would speak of the things that they had learned from their elders when they were young. Sometimes perhaps they would sing their stories and everyone would join in and share these lessons, their knowledge of the stars and the planets in the night sky gave them the wisdom that helped them to survive in those bygone days…
Well that kind of togetherness is so hard to come across now unless you have some kind of religious support behind you… and to have such commune in the world now we would have to start all over again to bring back such a way as man made ego rules mostly now, and doesn’t it show with how much suffering there is.
I also think that this is where the answers lie as to why? We all ask the same question though don’t we? Why do we have the natural earth disasters the way we do if god does exist? Why such harsh ways? well maybe, just maybe it’s the only way he can get the message across for people to “remember the rest”… to team people back together, to bring back a togetherness because unfortunately that’s what it takes “tragedy” what a shame though, just what a shame… such tragedy and loss on earth for a short time yes, but with the way the world and people communicate today that’s an even bigger loss … It’s a bad sad notion, maybe true but that’s just my theory.
Anyway I will continue… I have thought about it and the idea of washing my body with cold water and eating, rice, pasta, baked beans, baked potatoes, cabbage and sprouts just all the natural things that we can grow ourselves cooked on a real fire supports the image I hold of humble living, of voluntary creative simplicity.
I do not view this as poverty it was dam good for me as a child so many good memories I hold … I was just in time to watch my good friend Mr Holyman live in such a natural way doing all for himself even right down to the mangle in his backyard and the soaked up newspaper in rain water in a big drum, then dried out to burn on the fire. Who would have imagine that little dried blocks of newspaper would keep a fire lasting three times longer than just throwing newspaper on as normal, it was sort of like coal… to me it was brilliant!
And it was good for my grandmother and granddad too, they use to take their horse and cart to the market and sell what they had grown themselves and made a good living out of it… to bring your kids up with such natural things can create “simple living” instead of want, need and greed.
My second 16-year-old daughter didn’t make it.
At 16 my daughter has now left the family home to live with her materialistic boyfriend that buys both her and her love, all this has made her greedy, selfish and self-centred. In getting all she wants from him and his parents how can she, still a child herself refuse such “delights on a plate”.
The only thing left for such an act to become possible and to take things out of my hands was for her to become pregnant. Oh god what a plan! But all the teenagers now these days are doing it, most of her friends had already done it too because too much is being put on a plate for them and the tax payers have to pay for it.
They are both so young and they were so far apart, and with me now at breaking point, my daughter hating me so much, talking to me in a way I never imagined any of my children would, to say such cruel heartbreaking, devastating words that were so untrue and uncalled for. I finally had to let her go… it was time.
I believe that she thinks that this was for the best for her as they supply all her material needs the way she wants them supplied. But in reality she with her first daughter on the way, moving 125 miles away from all she knows I can only image how that must feel, and to watch her make all the same mistakes that I made at that age her with her baby’s father.
He has already shown what values he is going to put in to their child by him telling me that my grandchild will hate me. She has believed as I did at that age that the father of my children was going to be good for my children… don’t get me wrong I care much for him still, he’s the father of my children, but he has indeed made it very impossible for me and the children to love and respect him the way he had desired. It’s not all bad just very sad but that’s another story as I said before and I may well bring to you one day.
It is worse and more painful for me to watch because of the way she’s been mislead or how she imagines’ that it may be for her and after all the guidance I could give her. How could they the boy’s parents support such acts of their sons selfish wants just to keep her? It’s like “mommy I love this girl I want to keep her can I?” Just as if she were a toy in a shop window, but this a real person they have done this to “my daughter“and I know that resentment towards him will set in along the lines… I just don’t know how anyone could do this I certainly couldn’t have without speaking face to face with the other parents.
It is known that the other son also tried the same with my older daughter, but thankfully she did realise what was going on. I nearly lost them both to the same family. I suppose maybe the parents act this way because they always wanted a daughter of their own as they have just the two son’s and having made a similar mistake as me with providing the material things to support their boys “wants” not “needs” out of love for them, but with them doing it without any rewarding morels behind the act’s its horrid to see, the one thing I always made sure of when providing anything material for my children.
The way it worked out for us and the only responsible way, and not just because there being so many of them, is that our material things have always been brought for the home, for family living, for all to share, so not too much has been given to them personally. But they have “always” been provided with things that they “need” such as clothes, shoes, little bits of jewellery and so on.
It has also been done this way to teach them that what is given is to be respected and appreciated, it has been explained to them the “how’s“ and “whys” behind whatever was given simply to let them know that life is not just about receiving. Well my lost /stolen daughter certainly appreciates this family for what they give her for herself personally, the things that I couldn’t give her.
As I mentioned in part one of my multi section topic/project teens can be mislead. In lots of cases teens do get too carried away with the way other people around them are, their friends and their relatives the people we bring our children up to love naturally. But sometimes even they have not quite grasped the importance of life lessons themselves, school life, boyfriends/girlfriends, parents and yes me in this case.
Disciplining methods such as rewards, consequences, and manipulation are actually the LEAST effective methods of getting your child to listen and cooperate as I realised a few years ago. If you repeatedly use this method the same will happen to you that has happened with my two oldest children.
My 18-year-old still struggles now to want to achieve or carry on with anything without some kind of a reward afterwards, but a little allowance has to be made as she does suffer with ADHD, but does it though hmm??? She was only 1lb 13oz born and is very lucky to still be around as she was born 13 weeks early.
I noticed a selfish pattern of “want” and “greed” developing in my daughters, I felt so, so ashamed of myself and thought is this really what I have done for wanting the best for my kids? By the time my oldest was 13½ I was on a new mission … naturally I started to refrain and held back on some of the things they were asking for, not that I could afford them anyway, that’s not the point.
I would get for them all the basic things that they all needed, plus a little extra, but to her I was being nasty and spiteful and cruel (because she wanted the “brand name” goods) plus all the other things she could think of to throw at me. This daughter really did set out to hurt me yes hurt but “why” I never brought her up this way and if your children talk down to you after years of them not doing such a thing, it hits you damn hard.
She wanted what all her friends had and the friends she did have were the type that treated their parents with contempt and disrespect too. Why she chose these friends I don’t know but I always did say to my children never sit and watch anyone be bullied and never judge people for the way they look, and if someone is left out those are the ones you need stay closer to…well both my girls did listen to that and befriended those types of people. I have had to pay the price for that and so will they making their own lives’ much tougher and challenging.
I also believe the similarities in behaviour and dysfunction in some children are not only due to the actions of genes or other hereditary influences. Rather, the similarities result from a child then, teenager and adult enacting subconscious negative agreements and selfish behaviour pattern-ideas that were taken-on (downloaded) from the parent displaying similar behaviour.
This subconscious child-to-parent agreement and pattern idea transfer will make the child appear “like” that parent but because teens do not wish to be like their parent at all at this age then this is where the fight begins…
My second daughter unfortunately hasn’t downloaded any of the good and well needed points in her life but all the bad points of her big sister that suffers ADHD, her dad’s faults and also my own faults not to mention all those from people outside of the family. She is such a bright beautiful clever girl, but she has used all the bad parts of her past to abuse her future rather than to help her as I have. I use the bad to better my future the bad inspires me to do and want better.
She has also indeed chosen material and money over” life itself” making her first steps in life all that much more difficult to become lost, lonely and fully dependant on a boy, a new baby and a bunch of strangers that she doesn’t really know.
All I can say is I see clearly the cost of such luxuries in terms of what I am required to do, to make the money to maintain our children’s respect (” hmm if we allow it this way yes”) well that’s how it seems sometimes and that’s just wrong… I have to say that I’m not willing to pay that price of losing anymore children to the outside world through pc’s and phones for want and greed.
It seems harder for me to go to work full-time, month after month, year after year, wasting away my life and the short time we do have with our children in order to pay for things that are considered the normal things of life now; guess what? It’s not normal! It was not meant to be this way just too much is expected from our children now and I know half of the people who read this will know I’m right just too much is expected.
There is actually little evidence to me that all of these labour-saving devices have actually improved the quality of my life or the children’s. Actually it is just the opposite. Having and doing all these things, I have had very little time for myself and also my children have had very little time for me… just want, want, want.
It is changing now I choose more to read, to learn and to teach, this doesn’t mean I’m not normal, it means I am, also to practice yoga, to meditate , to visit with like-minded friends, spend more time with my children making the quality of my life much better, and these things are more enjoyable and valuable and rewarding.
Because if you think about it …Is a tap with hot water coming out of it really that valuable? Just look at what a person has to do just to have this convenience. First you must have some money to buy the fixtures, the water heater, the fuel, etc. This requires a job. To have a job, one needs transportation, such as a car. The car requires fuel, maintenance and insurance. To pay for this requires more money or a loan, which demands full-time employment. Then there are the requirements on the job such as a nice wardrobe, time restrictions, and extra costs for day-care, commuting hassle…it goes on and on. All because we want hot water to come out of the tap!
And that’s just one little aspect of what we want. There are other things too, like nice furniture, cable TV, mobile phones and fax machines. Of course there is little time left after working all day so we need ready-quick-fix meals, which are expensive. Then we feel stressed from working all day so we need to relax at the health club once or twice a week or play golf or tennis whatever takes our fancy.
That keeps us away from home too, so we need to make it up to the kids by taking them to the movies or maybe buy them the latest toy to relieve our guilt for not being with them. But do we really know what damage we are doing to them by doing such things? There will be a time when this child grows to leave home to fend for themselves “then what” we carry on supplying them? but that’s what they expect in most cases “and how “it will hit them hard because they are so used to receiving and they now have to learn the very thing we were trying to protect them from. Now they have to learn how not to receive without us …”simple living” is one of the most valuable things we can teach our children.
I think the things that are going to make it possible for me to accomplish “simplicity” now is not only the love and help I have had from my children & my loved ones but also from all the people who have really hurt me.
It has all helped me to reach the understanding I have now, and for me accepting my mistakes and changing them for a better, “mind-set” it’s so dam easy ,changing your mindset can be done in seconds you should try it, also my love of philosophy, yoga and the romantic ideal of spiritual asceticism will also help.
It is the idea of living in small spacious open dwellings, fresh air, sitting quietly and meditating, with my thoughtful prayers that really do get answered! (because I accept them as they come no matter what form they come in), painting my own art, and sitting in the lamp lit darkness, enjoying humble simple meals, good conversation with my children and friends listening to what they have to say and no distractions… sort of similar to the way life use to be with a togetherness that is and has slowly been disappearing from our children’s knowing and knowledge of life.
What I’m trying to say is … I started going through all the waves of every one of my memories I have, and it has evolved into the idea that experiences and memories will always be worth more than possessions which a lot of people do choose “I did once”.
I worry sometimes that the rest of my kids may suffer the same as I have and it is my daughter’s recent actions that has set me off on such a blog for the public , I just hope my realisations and me sharing this will indeed benefit my children’s parenting and anyone else’s growing future that follows any similar patterns.
I now choose the simplest things in life primarily because I feel dissatisfaction in having so many material things. To me, life is not about having and getting, it’s about experiencing fulfilment and satisfaction through being , giving, sharing and most of all having many precious happy memories to look back on, to keep me going forwards and to take with me when I leave.
“Simple living” It’s possible to be very comfortable, by making only a few modifications in lifestyle and attitude concerning money and material things.
A Life of Possessions:
Your new shoes will eventually be old.
Your new flat screen TV will eventually be obsolete technology.
Your new purse will eventually be out of fashion.
Your new toy will eventually be boring to play with and you’ll want another one.
Your new car will depreciate once you drive it off the lot.
Your new house will eventually be old.
Every material thing that’s newly acquired will eventually be old. (You can add to that, when you die you can’t take a single one of these things with you).
A Life of Experiences:
The thousands of waves ridden over a lifetime will leave permanent imprints on my memory and I’ll take them to the grave I will take them when I cross over.
The friends you spent your birthdays with will always trump the gifts you got. I can’t remember what I got for most of my birthdays but I remember spending each one with the most important people in my life. I can take every birthday with me when I go.
Travelling across the world, you’ll experience different cultures, meet interesting people, have wild experiences, sometimes near-death, live to tell the stories, which get passed on from generation to generation and you can take them all with you when you go.
First kisses, wedding days, kids being born and every god give moment good and bad are all experiences. Some of them are life-changing but of importance. I’m not too educated on most of these minus the first kisses, but I would imagine these are the kinds of experiences that you will always have in your heart and mind. You can take them all with you when you go.
The mountains we climb, the sunsets at the beach , the downtown skylines, the views from the peaks of every city are all experiences that we can always go back to just through the power of imagination . You’re free to take it all with you when you go.
A life of experiences is far richer than one of possessions when you’re faced with the end. Those who have a life of experiences die rich. Those who have a life of possessions may die rich, but will find themselves empty-handed once they cross over to the other side. There’s a physical limit on possessions and a life of experiences is a life without limits.
Written by Joanne Wellington Copyright © 2010,2015 All Rights Reserved.
- Simple living not necessarily simple – UMC.org (barefootpreachr.org)