I forwarded this link to a few of my girlfriends, curious to hear their thoughts. http://www.katrinakenison.com/2014/01/18/dear-older-love-old/
I read the post from the author above in a letter series she is writing to her older friend and mentor. She notes all the “good things” she keeps for special occasions as she ponders why not use them every day? We never know what tomorrow brings. In my work in gerontology, clients longed to save items to pass down an inheritance; never really enjoying these things for themselves. The reason they became our clients was because fiduciary or physical abuse was involved. The family or children that were beneficiaries of the inheritance valued these items more than the relationships; therefore abusing them. To this day these cases have stayed with me and have made me cynical. I began to believe this was the norm; the greedy desire to inherit the saved heirlooms, trusts and material possessions. I sadly learned the perpetrators of elder abuse, in most cases, were family.
Amongst my girlfriends one wants to reclaim her hutch that holds her fine china into a bookcase; the other keeps three pairs of UGG boots in her closet. The bff has her items in the basement; still in boxes. All claim they have “good stuff” saved for a special day. But as we approach mid-life (or already occupy it) the underlying theme is this. We are not worthy to use or wear the good things every day because what we do, each day, has no inherent value. It is only during the special times when we want to impress, look our best or feel what we are doing has worth that we don these layers. I think of my silver given as a wedding present. I have used it only once.
I shared this with my mother-in-law who has a closet full of new clothes, never worn, that she saves. For what? I ask her. Now that my in-laws are retired they think of the inheritance they want to pass to their daughter and son; both protesting that they want their parents to spend it It is they who have spent the years working and toiling away but it is important for them to pass down things for their kids and grandkids; things not given to them. And though we appreciate their generosity and years of frugally saving; it is something we want them to appreciate and utilize. You only get one life. There is no sense hoarding a wardrobe if nobody sees it. And much as some like to see a large sums in the bank account there is no joy in it; unless you spend it.
So why can’t we do this everyday? I realize that my girlfriend can’t wear her UGG boots to work on a rainy day; nor can we use fine china to heat a meal on the microwave. But we can certainly use and wear our good stuff, just because. It seems silly and impractical but why not? If not everyday, at least once a month or more than on those special rare occasions. We are worth it. Our days have value. We have to believe it.
Amidst the bustle of grinding, pressing and rolling I do a happy dance. Our goal to provide quality customer service; to differentiate from our faceless competitors in China, has paid off. It is the little things we change in our lives that can bring positive change. Building relationships with our vendors makes all the difference.
Without human relationships; all other things in our lives do not matter.
The culmination of these parallel thoughts came together yesterday as, once again, I found myself standing in our elementary school front office. In the course of twenty minutes I had recounted various past lives. Most people know me as a parent first; so I had been caught off guard when the administrator shared my former career and accomplishments to the staff present. I quickly discredit that person from a decade or so ago; the one who measured life by titles, certificates and accomplishments. They expressed their shock and surprise as I answered their queries. I used to be that person. It feels like a lifetime ago.
But I no longer value those things.
At the junior high, the same day, my son’s English teacher expressed her surprise that I am his mother. He is an introvert; I, the extrovert. But I wasn’t always this way. At his age I had been painfully shy; my girlfriends always speaking for me. My social behavior is learned. My immigrant parents were unsure how to guide me and so I navigated through adolescence on my own. It was an important reminder. We morph through various personas before we arrive at the one we eventually become as an adult. And who I am continues to change as I recalled the conversation at the elementary school. Growing, as a human being; cultivating moral character, never ends. We always are evolving.
It is the people who remain in my life; through all my transformations, that I value the most.
This is what I want my children to inherit. The ability to self-improve, believe and hope. To not rely on titles, looks or wealth. Quantity does not make a person valuable. A true relationship is not high maintenance; nor measured by the things you give or do. It is unconditional.
Tonight I sat amongst parents attending a First Communion meeting. The director shared her Friday night routine and how she fed her young kids pizza on her grandmother’s fine china. Our children mirror our codes and behavior. If we can’t share the things of value that we have, why have them?
From a distance of 2,000 miles I texted the bff from my home; inspired. I grinned wide as I imagined her grumbling; as she stepped past her snowy lawn to take a picture of the front of her house. Her temperature high was 36 degrees and low of 21. What goes on within these four walls are the most important titles we will ever hold. I blog it while my flock still lives within it. It is my responsibility to build character in my little “bubs;” for them to step forth from these walls to contribute to society. The palm sways in the slight breeze at 75 degrees and a low of 47 as I stand in the street; grinning like a fool.
Porch-to-porch, from my house to hers. I will use the good stuff and open my doors.