Monday, September 8, 2014

Wasting Our Youth on Chasing Stuff

As others are discussing, my memories of my college years involve living simply (though not by choice) and loving it. I had no car but traveled most places by bike or on foot, with an occasional bus ride thrown in for good measure (Rides were a quarter and transfers were free). Entertainment involved going to school-sponsored movies for 75 cents and splitting the $5 special at Burger King (two Whoppers, two fries and two drinks, as I recall) with my boyfriend. I also spent my free time socializing, reading for pleasure and sewing. Good times.

Some of the old folks I know live similarly. They may not drive anymore, so they walk or take the bus. They don’t buy much in the way of stuff, either because they can’t afford it or they don’t really want anything. But they read and cook and relax and enjoy their loved ones while living simply.

Why is it that we know how to enjoy life when we’re young and when we’re old, but in between we get caught up in stylish clothes and fancy cars and impressive houses and pricy vacations and technological toys, not to mention all the work (and time) it takes to pay for those things that we think we must have? Why do we exhaust ourselves by chasing a certain lifestyle right in the prime of our lives?

Wouldn’t it be wiser to live simply in those in-between years so we can relax and enjoy our lives while we’re (relatively) young and (relatively) healthy?

That leads to one more question: If I had to do it over again, would I pursue the big houses and the new cars? 

I’ll be honest: I’d have to answer yes. Speaking only for myself, the pursuit of “new” and “big” is something I just had to outgrow. Now, in my 50s, it looks like a waste of youthful energy to pursue such things. But at the time, it was what I wanted.

Sure seems silly to me now, though.

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