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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


We are in the midst of a tremendous rainstorm in the Pacific Northwest right now. It's calmed down today, but this morning there were flood warnings around the region. On my early morning jog with the big brown dog, in the dark, I ran right into several sidewalk puddles that soaked me to my ankles. Cycling to work, there were many streets with a foot or more of standing water due to the drains blocked by recently fallen leaves and water.

It makes me think about those who are living outside. Trying to shelter against this weather. I'm imagining the cold, the wet, the discomfort, the lack of a welcoming place to go in and warm up, to have a hot cup of tea or a warm shower and dry socks.

Really, I am lucky.We are lucky, lucky, lucky. I spend a disproportionate amount of time worrying about money; not a very healthy habit I know. I am mostly frugal. I try hard, with moderate success, to distinguish between wants and needs and luxuries. I wish I could pass on that perspective to my boys, the awareness of how fortunate we really are. They compare to their peer group--understandably. But we live in a culture where it is not easy to say "We could afford that, but choose not to because we are prioritizing other goals". Building an emergency fund, paying off the mortgage early, saving for retirement. They see the consumption and goods of those around them, but this may or may not reflect the full situation.

My older son wants an I-Phone. He knows that he doesn't really need one, but he also really really wants one. He thinks that I am hopelessly outdated and ridiculous for refusing a cell phone. So far, Minou is the only person in the family who has one. Technology is where Minou's needs and wants sometimes become conflated (for me it's clothing. Or education? No, that's different. It is.)

It was a surreal conversation tonight at the table after dinner, trying to convey how truly, truly lucky we are to have all the things we generally take for granted: a warm, safe home, a washer and dryer, working utilities, transportation, a fully stocked refrigerator...and hearing from p'tit minou un, yes, that's well and good, but that's normal. Everybody has that. I want a cell phone. An I-phone.

All this while the rain pours down. How can I convey how fortunate we are, to be thankful for what we have, to resist the lure of a million ever-changing desires?

Ideas? Please share...

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